POLO Magazine - June 2024

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June 2024 VOL. 28, NO. 3 $5.00 US/$5.50 CAN La Dolfina dominates Gauntlet of Polo Olympic Tribute France challenges U.S. team in 1924 rematch Treating Pain Weigh the pros and cons of medications School Spirit National Intercollegiate Championship results

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National Honors

ConcordEquityGroup takes President’s Cup championship

Clash of Titans

La Dolfina prevails in Gauntlet’s ultimate battle

Best of the Best

U.S. Open’s most talented horses game by game

Sweet 16 Forbes | Plunkett is NPC 16-Goal Champion

Olympic Tribute

France challenges U.S. team in 1924 rematch

SUPA Performance

British collegians ace Arena Challenge Cup

Association News

Annual meeting recap

Instructor’s Forum With Don Healy

Equine Athlete Treating Pain

Polo Development Youth program

Intercollegiate National Intercollegiate Championships

Polo in the Pampas By Lucas Noel

Obituaries

Polo friends we will miss

Polo Report

Dispatches from the world of polo

Yesteryears

Polo’s origins

2 DEPARTMENTS 6 14 18 22 24 54 58 62 78 Contents Opinions expressed in signed columns are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of the publishers of this magazine. June 2024
VOL. 28, NO. 3
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Dolfina’s Tomy Panelo keeps his eye on the ball in the U.S. Open final.
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FEATURES COVER
David Lominska
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David Lominska
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USPA officers, circuit governors and governors-at-large

Meetings Recap

The Spring USPA Committee and Board of Governors Meeting was held from April 16-20 at the National Polo Center--Wellington (NPC) in Wellington, Florida. Below are abridged committee recaps. The full recaps can be found on uspolo.org.

Services Reports:

Arena Committee

The committee discussed upcoming USPA arena tournaments such as the U.S. Open Arena Polo Championships and the United States Arena Handicap, which will be hosted at Brookshire Polo Club in Brookshire, Texas.

The meeting also covered the highly successful Texas Arena League that drew 54 teams. Additionally, the committee reviewed the U.S. team’s victory at the International Arena Polo Championship in Hyderabad, India.

The possibility of a joint effort between the Women’s Polo and Arena Committees to organize highhandicapped women’s arena matches around the country was explored.

Robin Sanchez, Arena Committee chair, presented the results of an arena club survey.

Finally, the Arena Committee sent a resolution to the board for a strategic review of arena polo and its various facets within the USPA. The strategic review will be conducted by a subcommittee under the Strategic Planning Committee and facilitated by Intercollegiate/Interscholastic Committee Chair Liz Brayboy.

Armed Forces Committee

The committee provided mounted color guards for several highprofile tournaments. The colors were also presented at the National Intercollegiate Championship finals and the U.S. Open Polo Championship. Tournament Manager Kaila Dowd confirmed that 2023 set a new record with 42 circuit military events. Among these, Army clinched the 2023 Commander-in-Chief Cup.

As for military-centered events, the Argentina-United States InterMilitary Polo Cup took place in March. The committee is in the process of assembling a team to play in England in July. Additionally, there are plans underway to host a team from Mexico.

The 2023 General George S. Patton Award winner was presented to Barbara Donahue for her contributions to the Armed Forces Committee.

Board and Staff Development Committee

The BASDC reviewed the MBO, which included the following: policy reviews presented by Chief Operating Officer Chris Green; a project to update committee chair role requirements; a continued focus on staff development offerings from external providers; and a human resources review of time-off policies, job descriptions and cybersecurity precautions in place with I.T. Solutions.

Club and Membership Administration Committee

Committee members discussed current USPA club compliance. At the time of the meeting, 209 out of 226 clubs were in compliance for the year. The committee reviewed the list of non-compliant clubs and their reasons for non-compliance, noting that seven clubs would not be renewing their memberships.

The committee also discussed provisional clubs eligible to become active member clubs and voted to

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move 11 clubs from provisional to active. Several clubs that were not recommended for active status failed to provide proof of hosting either two USPA events or four club events.

Constitution Committee

The committee discussed proposed changes to the disciplinary procedures policy (DPP). Effective April 20, the USPA board of governors approved revisions to the DPP. These updates include new language in the costs section, outlining the required reimbursement of USPA fees and costs by any respondent who is found liable for a conduct violation after a hearing, and the addition of a table of preapproved settlement terms to the equine medication rules violation section of the DPP. To review the updated disciplinary procedures policy, please see page 275 of the USPA rulebook.

Additionally, discussions revolved around proposed revisions to the constitution and bylaws, slated for further review over the summer.

Revisions are scheduled to be presented for approval at the Fall USPA Committee, Board of Governors and Annual Member Meetings.

Equine Welfare Committee

A report on the equine medication testing program was presented, indicating that 240 horses have already been tested. Testing has taken place in four circuits at six clubs. A total of 24 games have been tested in 12 tournaments, covering intercollegiate, arena, women’s, lowgoal and high-goal polo.

The committee reviewed proposed revisions to the equine medications rules. Effective April 20, the USPA board of governors approved revisions to the equine medication rules, which may mandate immediate expulsion from the USPA for refusal to participate in equine medication testing.

All other violations will result in the filing of an EMR violation complaint pursuant to paragraph C.1 of part IV of the USPA disciplinary procedures

policy. To review the most up-to-date equine medication rules, please refer to page 213 of the USPA rulebook.

Lastly, and most importantly, the Clint Nangle Equine Welfare Award was presented to committee Chair Dr. Mike Manno for his ongoing dedication to equine welfare.

Finance Committee

Committee Chair Sam Ramirez Jr. introduced representatives from the Meketa Investment Group. They provided an overview of investment returns as of March 31. The portfolio is conservatively positioned and remains in line with the USPA’s approved investment policy objectives. Returns since inception are within the USPA’s targeted range of 5%-7%.

USPA Global Licensing President and CEO Michael Prince presented an overview of the U.S. Polo Assn. brand, which celebrated another recordbreaking year with over $2.4 billion in global retail sales and multiple industry awards.

Prince discussed numerous global challenges in the marketplace yet emphasized the brand’s growth continues to surpass that of many world-class competitors. He also noted the current year has begun on a strong note.

USPA Treasurer Steven Rudolph reported on the USPA’s financial status, noting $168.2 million in cash and investments on March 31. Discussion touched upon budget planning for 2025, debt management and maximizing returns. Ramirez stated the USPA is in a good position to manage its current financial obligations and impressed upon attendees that due to volatility and election year concerns, the USPA should continue a conservative approach in this area.

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Dr. Mike Manno received the Clint Nangle Equine Welfare Award from Lindsay Greenway.

High-Goal Committee

The committee discussed umpiring standards, the integration of new technologies (automatic laser or photographic goal detection) and potential rule changes. The topic of sponsor substitutes in the Gauntlet of Polo was a focal point of the meeting.

After thorough deliberation, the committee proposed to the Rules Committee a new regulation that specifically requires any substitute for a designated sponsor with a handicap below 3 goals to meet a minimum age requirement. The board approved the following revision to Rule 1.f to address this request:

In the Gauntlet of Polo only, any registered player member, other than an immediate family member, who substitutes for a playing sponsor or a designated sponsor whose USPA outdoor handicap is less than 3 goals must be 21 years old or older.

Rules Committee

Several changes were proposed to both the current outdoor rules and play-related tournament conditions. Changes have been approved by the board of governors and will become effective immediately, with others taking effect on Jan. 1, 2025, as detailed in the summary. The updated rulebook, with changes highlighted in bold for easy reference, and the summary of USPA outdoor rules and tournament condition changes approved April 20 are available on uspolo.org/association/bookshelf.

Safety Committee

The committee presented the 2022 injury survey data. Survey results mirrored data collected in 2021. The discussion then turned to enhancing the collection of injury data reports and improving methods for tracking the information. A brief discussion took place regarding a device known as the Q-Collar, which is designed to help prevent concussions.

The board approved 57 national, sanctioned and NPC event applications for 2024 and 2025.

Committee Chair Dr. Ulibarri shared insights from his research on mouth guards to prevent concussions. Ulibarri cited several articles suggesting the benefits of mouth guards, which he will share with the committee for further review.

Tournament Committee

The committee and board approved 57 national, sanctioned and NPC event applications for 2024 and 2025. Eight 2025 national tournaments were contested, and the committee heard proposals before voting to award the Bronze Trophy to Grand Champions Polo Club (Wellington, Florida), the Rossmore Cup to Eldorado Polo Club (Indio, California), the National Copper Cup to Sarasota Polo Club (Sarasota, Florida), the Heritage Cup and Butler Handicap to Port Mayaca Polo Club (Okeechobee, Florida), the Monty Waterbury to The Hamptons Polo Club (Watermill, New

York), the Silver Cup to Santa Barbara Polo & Racquet Club (Carpinteria, California) and the U.S. Open Arena Polo Championship to California Polo Club (Los Angeles, California).

Women’s Committee

The committee reported on the growth and success of women’s polo. Last year set new records for the number of USPA tournaments held and the highest enrollment of female members in the USPA.

The women’s tournament incentive program provided financial support for the inaugural Women of Wellington Polo Series (WOW), which consisted of three 10- to 14-goal tournaments played January through April. The series provided a season of competitive polo for amateurs and professionals, and the format will no doubt be replicated in other circuits. Port Mayaca Polo Club (Okeechobee,

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David Lominska

Florida) hosted the U.S. Open Women’s Polo Championship with an impressive eight teams and included the Florida Women’s Open as a subsidiary tournament. Prize money was awarded in both finals. Committee Chair Meghan Gracida received the 2023 Louise Hitchcock Woman of the Year award.

NPC Hospitality Operations

Chairman Tim Gannon and President Craig Callen reported notable improvements at The Polo Club at NPC, attributing the positive results to effective cost control, a rise in membership, an increase in events and greater member participation. Callen emphasized the need for certain capital expenditures related to both safety and member experience.

NPC Polo Operations Advisory Committee

Following the first NPC season, the committee focused on developing an organizational chart that divides responsibilities within Polo Operations into three main groups: polo management, tasked with scheduling and executing polo; fields and grounds, responsible for maintaining the fields and grounds; and services and special projects, which support the administrative and operational infrastructure between NPC Polo Ops departments and the Advisory Committee.

NPC has made progress towards expanding the levels of polo being played at the facility. This season, over 50% of the games played at NPC were below the 22-goal level. This includes mixed levels from 8to 16-goal polo, women’s polo and youth polo. The fields at NPC have continued to receive compliments from professionals and sponsors in all levels of polo. NPC ticket sales were strong, including a sold-out U.S. Open Polo Championship final.

Looking ahead, NPC Polo Operations will continue to focus on improving NPC’s image and brand value. These

efforts are strategically aimed at boosting demand for non-polo events at NPC and expanding sponsorship activation opportunities.

Marketing/Communications Report:

Executive Director Matt Baran highlighted the remarkable growth of the USPA Polo Network, noting an average 79% increase in live views and 64% increase in total views for semifinals and finals, as well as a significant increase in subscribers. Baran discussed several enhancements such as an expanded graphics packages, in-depth player statistics and spotlights, player interviews and rich historical context during livestreamed events.

Baran also highlighted video content produced in collaboration with Running Iron Creative (RIC). So far, seven episodes of “USPA Presents” have been released, with more to come. The episodes showcase fascinating and occasionally underrepresented facets of the sport. Communications Manager Cristina Fernandez elaborated on the division’s successful social media engagement strategies. Two viral videos on USPA platforms reached over 10 million users, resulting in nearly 12,000 new followers of the sport on Instagram. USPA social media boasted a 75% increase in followers across Instagram, Facebook and X, including an increase of 27,000 Instagram followers in just 3½ months.

Similarly, NPC’s social media strategy has been enhanced through key partnerships, attracting influencers with a combined following of 5.2 million to polo events during the winter season. Efforts to distinguish NPC’s social media voice from USPA have led to more curated and creative content focused on the spectator experience and event promotion, including a robust organic and

paid advertising push for general admission and brunch tickets. Social media was also effectively utilized to create bespoke sponsorship opportunities throughout the season, with ongoing plans to further develop and monetize this valuable asset.

Baran concluded by providing an overview of NPC’s rebranding strategy, including the new NPC logo and website build.

LLC Reports:

Polo Development LLC

In Junior Polo, player development continues to support the National Youth Tournament Series (NYTS) and Young Player Opportunity (YPO) programs. The NYTS Championship will take place at La Herradura Polo Club in Santa Ynez, California.

Additionally, new perpetual awards were recently established for the NYTS Championships. The awards include sportsmanship and best playing pony for both divisions. The women’s division will be named in honor of the Hale family. Finally, the YPO program adopted new language in its funding guidelines to provide support for high-level U.S.-based training programs that emphasize horsemanship.

In I/I polo, highlights included introducing the Clyde C. Waddell Jr. Memorial Award and the Division II National Intercollegiate Sportsmanship Award, graciously donated by the family of Clyde Waddell. The program also implemented environmentally friendly practices at each of the national events.

The middle school point system, now in its inaugural year, will see its first set of award winners crowned this summer. Further, the I/I program will undergo its annual summer review and select the host sites for 2025 and 2026 nationals.

PDI Chairman Bob McMurtry reflected

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on the impact the program has made on the critical infrastructure needed to develop the sport of polo. Over six years, the PDI program has partially supported infrastructure projects totaling an estimated cost of $10.45 million. McMurtry reviewed the justification for his request that the board consider a significant budget increase for PDI in the future. The presentation also outlined the strategy for future planning at the committee level.

Finally, Executive Director Justin Powers reviewed the USPA Polo Development e-learning platform, which contains over 800 courses in horsemanship, riding, ball striking, strategy, etc. In its first year, 1,300 users produced almost 30,000 views, with an average engagement rate of 7 minutes and 45 seconds.

Umpires LLC:

USPA Umpires, LLC Executive Director Fergus Gould discussed the various team building and leadership activities that Umpires LLC executed

with its professional umpires this year. Metrics show the number of games officiated continues to rise and break records.

The annual umpire training camp was held at NPC in January. The training camp focused on communication and self-improvement with guest speaker Rachelle Strawther, founding director of the Center for Lifelong Learning for Gonzaga University.

In February, many umpires and USPA senior staff members participated in an Echelon Front FTX field training workshop that focused on ownership and leadership. Echelon Front was established by a team of former Navy SEALs who translate lessons from the battlefield into strategies for everyday challenges.

The professional umpires’ toolkit has been enhanced with the introduction of new body cameras by Reveal. These cameras will augment better video replay for game analysis and officiating.

Chairman: Stewart Armstrong

President: Charles Smith

Secretary: Chrys Beal

Treasurer: Steven Rudolph

American International Polo Foundation:

American International Polo Foundation (AIPF) Class 1 directors were appointed as follows: Jacek Grotnik and Tim Dutta were reappointed, while Megan Judge was appointed to the seat vacated by Tommy Biddle. The board of directors then nominated and elected Edward J. Armstrong as its president and treasurer, and Stephen S. Armour as its secretary.

AIPF managed the donation for the inaugural Clyde Waddell Division II Sportsmanship Award and is available to manage similar donations to support this type of initiative.

AIPF, in cooperation with the Arena Committee, is in search of a perpetual trophy for the Buddy Combs International Arena Challenge and actively seeking donations to support this initiative. This year, the Indian Polo Association has been invited to compete for the cup. The date and venue are to be determined.

Armour invited Chuck Stanislawski, a CPA and USPA member, to discuss strategies the AIPF can use to solicit donations from individuals approaching the age at which they are required to take taxable distributions from their retirement accounts. A committee will be formed to organize this effort.

New Business:

The board of governors approved Denver, Colorado, as the host site for the USPA Fall Committee and Board of Governors Meetings. The meetings will take place Oct. 8-12.

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Published by the United States Polo Association Offices at 9011 Lake Worth Rd., Lake Worth, Florida 33467 (800) 232-USPA
David Lominska

Staff Spotlight

Joe Henderson

Assistant Director, Umpires LLC

Two years ago, Henderson was hired as assistant director for USPA Umpires, LLC. In that position, he helps with scheduling, evaluating and supporting professional umpires. He also travels quite a bit, visiting as many clubs as he can.

“I meet with club management, talking about the umpires and what the program can do to help them,” he said.

Born and raised in Durban, South Africa, in a ranching and farming environment, Henderson started playing polo with his family when he was just 10 years old. His grandfather, father, uncles and cousins all played. His father held a 5-goal handicap and an uncle was 6 goals. His sister Alison currently lives in Aiken, South Carolina, where she plays.

“When I was a kid, we didn’t have trucks and trailers, so we used to ride our horses out to the polo field on the weekend, play them Saturday and Sunday, and ride them two hours home,” he explained.

He attended Hilton College in KwaZulu-Natal where he played rugby and cricket. Following college, he completed two years of compulsory military training.

“All I wanted to do was play polo, but there were no professionals in South Africa, so that wasn’t an option for me,” he said. “The only place you could try to make a life was in the U.S. or England, and the U.S. was yearround.”

His dad encouraged him to move to the U.S. when he was 20. He landed

his first job in Detroit, Michigan, as a groom. When a playing opportunity came up in Los Angeles, California, he moved West. He went on to play throughout California, at Santa Barbara Polo & Racquet Club and Empire and Eldorado Polo Clubs. He also played occasionally in Florida and England. Later in his playing career, he split his time between California and Calgary, Alberta, Canada.

He went on to earn an 8-goal handicap on grass, and compiled an impressive list of tournament titles, including the Pacific Coast Open, C.V. Whitney Cup, America Cup, North America Cup and the Bronze Trophy.

In the arena, he rose to the pinnacle of the sport as one of only four players to ever reach a 10-goal handicap. He made a name for himself in the pro arena leagues in Los Angeles, and counted wins in the U.S. Arena Open, the U.S. Arena Handicap and the Arena Delegates Cup.

He was recognized in 1993 as the Most Valuable Player of the U.S. Open, and won the Hugo Dalmar Award for sportsmanship in 1996.

“Polo is the only job I have been lucky enough to ever have, first as a pro and now working for Umpires LLC,” he said.

Though not in an official capacity, Henderson had plenty of experience umpiring. Most of his playing career was before there were professional umpires. Back then, the pros would take turns umpiring. Eventually, he did get an umpire certification.

He still rides in the summertime, and outside of polo, he likes to play golf and fish. When time allows, he loves going back to Africa, taking trips to see the country’s wild animals. He also enjoys quieter times, doing the New York Times’ Sunday crossword puzzle. Someday, he would like the opportunity to travel around Europe.

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David Lominska

Intercollegiates

Division II National Intercollegiate Championship men’s teams consisted of Cornell, Texas Tech, Georgetown and Stanford Universities, while women’s teams included Colorado State, Texas Tech and Cornell Universities, Grossmont College and University of Wisconsin-Madison. Congratulations to Cornell men and Colorado State women for their DII national championship wins!

Division I National Intercollegiate Championship men’s teams included Universities of North Texas, Kentucky and Virginia, Southern Methodist and Texas A&M Universities and Grossmont College. Women’s teams included Universities of Virginia, South Carolina-Aiken, Kentucky and California Davis and Texas A&M, California Polytechnic State and Southern Methodist Universities.

Congratulations to the University of Virginia Women and University of North Texas Men on their DI national championships!

Interscholastics

The Open and Girls’ National Interscholastic Championships were held at Brookshire Polo Club in Brookshire, Texas, March 6-10. Open teams included Houston, St. Croix, Lakeside, Yale, Maryland and Waiki’i. Teams competing in the girls’ division included Maryland, Hillside, St. Louis, Kingswood and Maui.

Congratulations to Houston (open) and Maryland (girls) for taking home their division’s national championship!

Young Player Opportunity Grants

Do you have a unique playing or training opportunity and need a little help to make it work? You can apply for assistance through the Young Player Opportunity (YPO) grant program. Go to uspolo.org to learn more.

Participants in the DI National Intercollegiate Championships

National Youth Tournament Series

National Youth Tournament Series qualifier season is here! Check with your local club or favorite travel destination for qualifier dates throughout the summer.

The NYTS National Championship is planned for Sept. 11-15 at La Herradura Polo Club in Santa Ynez, California.

I/I Contact Information:

Amy Fraser, Director of I/I Polo afraser@uspolo.org

Ali Davidge, I/I Program Coordinator adavidge@uspolo.org

Emily Dewey, I/I Tournament Manager edewey@uspolo.org

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Oana Moore

When your horse isn’t going well, Don Healy says it is helpful to go back to basics and start over.

STRONG FOUNDATION

Go back to the basics with horses that have problems

Horses are an essential part of the game. The more in sync you are with your horses, the more successful you will be on the field. When a horse isn’t going well, it can be the horse’s lack of foundation or it may be the rider. Don Healy is a polo player and longtime horse trainer. Now based out of Salley, South Carolina, he grew up on his family’s farm in Oak Brook, Illinois, where they raised Thoroughbreds for racing, polo, hunting and jumping. For the past 40 years, he has helped polo players and

other riders to better understand and work with their horses.

Healy says polo ponies are not alone when it comes to problems.

“Most of the problems I see are pretty universal. All horses seem to have basically the same problems. It is just a lack of foundation,” he said. “People don’t concern themselves enough with how horses are started to begin win. It is not necessarily the person that has the horse now, it is who started them way back when. They are very smart and they tend to

remember the bad stuff.”

Healy said the biggest mistake players make with these horses is just managing the problem rather than fixing it.

In one instance, Healy was asked to work with a horse that a player was having trouble getting on. The groom would have to hold the horse for him to get on. That progressed to the horse needing to be walked for someone to get on it. Then the horse balked at going on the field so it had to be walked on to the field before they could get on it.

Healy took the mare and when he tightened the girth on his stock saddle, she exploded.

“She was cinchy, so I worked with her on that and everything went away,” he said. “You just don’t know [why she became] cinchy. Other horses were in the same barn with the same people. Maybe one day there was something caught in the girth. Once we cleared that up, and it didn’t take long, she was fine.”

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Without pressure, curiosity will allow the horse to be more teachable.

Another horse Healy worked with had been pushed most of his life. While he would do what he was asked, he didn’t like it and would be tense. The first chance he got, he would act out. Healy took him into the pen, but instead of asking him to do something, he did nothing. He would sit on a drum while the horse ran around.

“I would just wait for him to stop and as soon as he did, I’d just put him away,” he explained. “It took me four days, but every day he would stop closer to me. He had gotten down to where he was just trotting around. On the last day, I turned him loose, went over and sat on my barrel and he came right up and stood next to me. Then I started working with him. Everything I would do with him was easy.”

The horse was confused that he wasn’t being made to do something. Soon after, he relaxed. When he was tense, his rider would get nervous and hold him too much, which made him more tense. Once Healy got to the bottom of it, the horse and rider were much happier together.

Healy says a lot of riders want a horse that is relaxed, but are afraid to loosen the reins enough to let them relax. They are afraid the horse will start getting fast so they keep the reins tight and the horse gets tense and balled up.

Healy says in most cases he just starts over with the horse. He treats the horse like it is unbroken and just goes through the stages of training.

“I pretend it is a 2-year-old and go through the stages. If it goes through a step really quickly, I move on,” he said.

“If I start flagging it and it just stands there, I don’t need to keep doing that and we go on to different obstacles and see how it does there. If there is a hole, that’s how I find it. I try to fix that hole and move on to the next step and eventually you are good to go.”

Healy admits long ago he started the old fashion way of training by tacking up a horse, getting on them, getting bucked off and repeating that until the horse got tired enough to let you ride it.

“The problem with that whole system

is they are scared to death. Every time they buck me off, they learn something. When they buck me off, it is a little bit easier for them the next time. It may not be today because they are tired, but tomorrow is going to be easier,” he explained.

Today, Healy says he takes a lot more time with them, and does a lot more ground work. He works them for 30 or 60 days, gives them some time off, works them some more and gives them more time off. You can never be too patient or take too much time with them.

“I get them used to a lot of things now that we never used to. I do a lot more with obstacles. When they leave here, you can rope off any horse, you can crack a whip, you can drag tarps and you can do all that over obstacles,” said Healy. “They all jump, they all do everything and then they can go on to whatever discipline that you want.”

Ground work includes giving the young horse confidence. Their nature is to run when they are afraid of something. In the wild, they will run

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A good foundation with lots of groundwork allows a horse the confidence to do almost anything.

for about a quarter mile, then they turn around and look at whatever it was that scared them. Healy says his goal is to get that quarter mile down to two feet.

“They are going to spook, but you bring out their curiosity. When you do that you bring out their confidence,” Healy said. “Then you have a horse you can start teaching things to. If they don’t have that confidence, that foundation and that trust in people, then you have problems. You can try to teach them something new but they haven’t got a clue.”

When a horse has been pushed too much, too soon or has not had a good foundation, it may manifest as a behavioral issue years later.

Horsemanship also plays a role in how well we get along with our horses. A lot of players tend to want the fastest horse, but if you are playing in 4- to 6-goal polo, that is probably not

necessary. When a horse is used to running and playing at a higher level, they likely aren’t going to play well at a slower pace. And just because someone else plays the horse well doesn’t me you will get along with the same horse.

“People like to over-horse themselves. Everybody wants that dragon, that horse that has fire coming out of its nose so they can say, look at my big, tough horse,” Healy said. “You need a horse that is appropriate for the level of polo you are playing and your level of horsemanship.”

If you came from another discipline, like jumping, you may have to learn to ride a different way. You will likely have to change your seat, the way you hold your reins, as well as the length of your stirrups. You will also have to get used to the different tack used on polo horses.

Healy said one of the most common

mistakes he sees polo players make is with the bridle. Often times they use the wrong bit, it is adjusted incorrectly or there is just too much paraphernalia on it.

“You don’t want the bit so tight there are wrinkles on the corners of the mouth. The curb chain should be flat, through the rings and not too tight, and you don’t need all the drop nose bands and other stuff,” he said. “The horse will resist it and fight the pressure. That is what causes their heads to go up and they start shaking their heads.”

Improving your riding will always be helpful to the horse. Ride as much as you can, and ride as many different horses as you can. Don’t be afraid to take riding lessons. There is always room for improvement.

16 DEPARTMENTS INSTRUCTORS FORUM

TREATING PAIN Weigh the pros and cons of medications

Anti-inflammatory medications are commonly used in horses, to give relief from discomfort and speed healing in situations when these athletes suffer minor strains and injuries. There are two types of anti-inflammatory drugs—steroids (like dexamethasone, prednisone, etc.) and non-steroidal drugs, which are generally safer and have fewer side effects.

Ryan Carpenter, DVM, Equine Medical Center, Cypress, California, says non-steroidal drugs are probably the most commonly used medications in humans and horses. People go to the grocery store and buy Advil, ibuprofen, aspirin, etc. and horse owners and trainers frequently use NSAIDs like Banamine, bute and some of the newer products for their horses.

“Advil, aspirin, etc. are very similar to bute and Banamine,” he said.

Inflammation is part of the healing process, but excessive inflammation can be damaging and painful, so we generally try to reduce inflammation. Yet we don’t want to use excessive doses.

“With all medications, there are side effects. There are benefits and potential negative side effects. Doctors and veterinarians always weigh the positives and negatives, to provide the best care for our patients. If I have a horse with a broken leg, I need to give that

horse an anti-inflammatory to help the horse feel better and to reduce swelling and inflammation around the area where I will be doing surgery,” he said.

Extreme swelling is detrimental. The swelling must be reduced, to make the horse a better candidate for surgery.

“Then, when I do surgery and have stabilized the fracture with screws, plates, etc. and have removed the limb instability, this will also result in better comfort for the horse. I won’t need to utilize NSAIDs for a long period,” said Carpenter.

If a horse has a chronic problem, such as an older horse with navicular,

Weigh the benefits and negatives of giving medications, especially for chronic problems.

arthritis or laminitis, weigh the benefits and negatives of giving medications.

“The last thing you want is a horse that’s very sore in one limb and develops support-limb laminitis in the good leg or develop other problems,” he said.

Find a safe way to keep that horse comfortable.

“Even the seemingly simple things are usually complex. This is why doctors and veterinarians are constantly evaluating the patient, changing the treatments, reaching for different medications that might be more appropriate for one case versus another—to provide the best care for that patient—weighing the pros and cons of everything we do,” he said.

“You don’t want to put a horse on bute for the rest of its life, but you might need to give him bute for a certain period of time, depending on what you are dealing with.”

If the horse doesn’t seem susceptible to some of the side effects like gastric ulcers, you can continue to use the lowest dose that provides relief and maintain that dose longer. There are always options.

“If a horse has arthritis in his right front fetlock joint I could treat him every day with bute, to make him more comfortable, or I could put a small dose of a medication into that fetlock joint and have the same benefit, without affecting the whole body. The important thing is to have an accurate diagnosis, and targeted/tailored specific treatment that’s best for the patient, minimizing the risk of side effects,” he explained.

Sometimes the veterinarian will prescribe a steroid initially, short term, in certain situations, rather

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DEPARTMENTS EQUINE ATHLETE
Adoe Stock Photo
Each horse may respond to treatment differently, so you have to make adjustments accordingly.

than using NSAIDs. The difference between a NSAID and a steroid is how they work to reduce the inflammation.

“The body has what we call the arachidonic acid pathway, which is basically how inflammation occurs. The steroid is a very broad way of taking out the entire pathway; it works very high up on that cascade. The NSAID attacks a very specific area of that pathway, farther down the cascade. Then we have even more specifics like COX-1 and COX-2,” Carpenter said.

“The benefit of a specific therapy is that it is more selective. The steroid takes out everything. The NSAIDs and the COX are targeted more toward the bad aspects of inflammation and preserve the good aspects of that cascade. So, any time we can use something that doesn’t wipe out the whole cascade, it’s better for the patient.”

There are times that steroids like

dexamethasone might be given once, at the start of treatment to deal with an acute problem, and then you change to something else.

Some NSAIDs seem more suitable for certain types of inflammation than others. For instance, we give a horse flunixin (Banamine), rather than bute, for colic.

“Equine practitioners will tell you that Banamine is better for eye pain and GI tract pain, while bute is better for orthopedic pain—joints and muscles. From a purely scientific medical perspective, these drugs are very similar and they act in very similar manner, but from a clinical perspective we feel there are differences. That’s where there is always a leap between textbook/ research/literature and the doctor’s clinical impression when looking at the patient face-to-face,” he said. “Research only takes us so far. Our boots on the ground and hands on

the patient takes us to the next level. Although we rely heavily on research and this is how we make a lot of our decisions, we can’t ignore the patient just because research tells us something. We have to evaluate the patient’s response to our treatment and make adjustments accordingly— case by case.”

There are also some types of inflammation that NSAIDs can’t control. For instance, a horse with heaves will generally not respond to bute, but giving a steroid or a bronchodilator may help. This is similar to a person with asthma and breathing problems.

“It all depends on the disease we’re treating. This is why an accurate diagnosis is important. If you are just throwing medications at the patient, hoping something fixes the problem, you are probably not going to be very successful,” he said. “We rely on our clinical exam and diagnosis, to

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DEPARTMENTS EQUINE ATHLETE
Adoe Stock Photo

Long-term treatment with NSAIDS can cause colitis, ulcers, thickening of the bowel and protein-losing enteropathies.

institute the most effective treatment.”

There is always some value in being ahead of the curve regarding pain and inflammation.

“We know it’s easier to prevent inflammation and pain than it is to treat it. Every time I do surgery, and every time a person goes into surgery, that patient gets a preoperative anti-inflammatory for pain control. We know from research that once the pain cycle occurs, it is harder to treat it and relieve it than to prevent it from happening.

“When a horse is about to have surgery, it will get medication. It might be something like throat surgery, in which the horse is completely normal, happy and in no pain, but the fact that I am going to make an incision, spread the muscles, etc. and do some dissection, this will cause some local swelling and trauma,” he said. “If I simply deal with this after it happens, I will have a harder time

maintaining patient comfort than if I treat that horse beforehand and for a few days afterward. The last thing you want after throat surgery is a horse with a sore throat that won’t eat or drink. Then the horse might become dehydrated and manure will become too firm. You can create complications by not providing effective pain management in the beginning.”

With any medications, be on the lookout for side effects. NSAIDs may affect horses a little differently than humans, and some horses are more susceptible to side effects of NSAIDs than other horses.

“Long-term treatment with NSAIDs in horses can sometimes cause right dorsal colitis, which is something unique to the horse and not a problem in humans,” he said. “In general, however, stomach ulcers, thickening of the bowel, protein-losing enteropathies, etc. are relatively common across all species, but each

species will have individuals that are more (or less) prone to these problems.”

Some horses seem more susceptible to stomach ulcers, for instance. There is no general rule of thumb for how long NSAIDs can be safely given to a horse before the risk of side effect increases. Each horse is a little different. The owner and the veterinarian must try to determine what is a safe level and length of time for treating that particular horse.

Sometimes people wonder if a selective COX-2 inhibitor (firocoxib) is as effective as the non-selective NSAIDs, and whether there is a downside to using the NSAID with fewer side effects. Carpenter says effectiveness depends on the problem being treated.

“Our choice also depends on the horse’s tolerance for these drugs. Sometimes it’s better to treat a specific joint, for instance, than the

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DEPARTMENTS EQUINE ATHLETE
Adoe Stock Photo

For a horse with something like arthritis in a joint, it may be better to use a more targeted approach, like injecting the joint rather than treating it with bute.

whole body, with less potential for side effects, but in some instances the systemic treatment with a more traditional NSAID may be more effective for the condition being treated,” said Carpenter.

Firocoxib is the most recent NSAID on the market.

“We have several options now, with bute, Banamine, Ketofen, Equioxx (firocoxib). These are all very effective and many are very inexpensive. Though the new NSAIDs and new therapies are great, if the option is to give a horse 2 grams of bute that will cost about $1 or the new one that will cost $15, sometimes cost plays a factor in what you use,” he said.

There are also some high-tech therapies, like platelet-rich plasma and Interleukin Receptor Antagonist Protein, for treating equine injuries.

“If you can treat a certain area like a fetlock joint with PRP or IRAP or some other biologic, it may be helpful

because with biologics there are very few negative side effects. You don’t need the NSAIDs because you’ve managed that specific area of pain, and this can have a huge benefit for the patient from a long-term perspective. For a certain period of time (either before or after you do the biologic therapy) there might be instances in which NSAIDs might be used, and other instances in which they would not be used. This would all be based on the patient,” said Carpenter.

There will always be a role for NSAIDs in managing equine health and comfort. When used judiciously they provide a lot of pain relief, making the horse more comfortable. There are rules that must be followed, however, if you are using a horse in competition, since some of these medications are not allowed while a horse is competing.

“The racing industry, for instance,

has taken a conservative approach to use of NSAIDs today, compared to 10 years ago. Ten years ago you could commonly give a horse three different NSAIDs within the 48 hours leading up to a race. Today you can give one (as long as it is 48 hours before the race) and no more. Prior to this we had drug-testing parameters in which certain drugs had to fall under a certain threshold and now there is basically no threshold, which means the horses can’t have any NSAIDs in their system at all,” he says.

Other sports also have strict rules regarding what can and cannot be given to a horse before a competition.

“If a horse needs bute or Banamine or some other drug in order to perform, that horse should not be competing,” says Carpenter.

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DEPARTMENTS EQUINE ATHLETE

COMMON GROUND Program offers youth access to field, friends

This past winter, former 9-goaler Julio Arellano initiated a weekly youth polo program at National Polo CenterWellington, in Wellington, Florida. The idea behind it was to provide regular practices to local kids who might not otherwise have access to a polo field, aside from the occasional junior polo tournament. He reached out to USPA Chairman

Stuart Armstrong, President Charles Smith and Secretary Chrys Beal, along with Polo Development Executive Director Justin Powers. All were on board with the idea and made a field available at NPC. USPA Global provided jerseys for the kids.

Arellano remembered how challenging it was to improve his game as a junior player with limited

youth polo programs, noting that up until he was 14 years old, 80% of his polo was limited to stick and balling.

“There were no youth programs … my youth program was stick and balling. ... When I was growing up, there was one tournament one day a year; it was the biggest day of my life,” he said.

Later, Arellano was fortunate to receive lessons from Hall of Famer George Oliver, and as he got older was invited to practices at South Forty Polo Club and the former Fairlane Farms, both in Wellington.

“I’ve been going to Argentina for the past couple of years and noticed that every Saturday morning the roads are packed with ponies. All of the polo fields have polo going on them with kids of different ages,” Arellano said. “It reminded me of the soccer fields you see here in the U.S. on Saturday mornings.”

While kids whose parents are part of one of the larger polo organizations often play regularly on the teams’ fields, other kids don’t have the same opportunities.

Arellano wanted to fill the gap for those junior players who don’t have access to a field and wouldn’t normally get to play polo on a regular basis with other like-minded kids. About a dozen players cycled through the program this winter, competing in weekly white pants practices. All either had their own horses or rented them.

His son Lucas runs a similar program for the Polo Training Foundation at their family farm in Aiken, South Carolina, every Monday in the spring and fall.

Lucas Arellano ran the program the first two weekends, with Whistle Uys and Zulu Scott Barnes each captaining a side. Julio Arellano took it over when Lucas went back to Aiken. Practices consisted of four to six chukkers. Arellano offered tips but tried not to overdo it with too much instruction.

22 DEPARTMENTS POLO DEVELOPMENT
Kaile Roos Julio Arellano

In Argentina, polo fields are filled with kids on Saturday mornings. Poroto Cambiaso, in white, came up through the youth program.

“I basically wanted them to play open polo, hit and run and don’t ride for fouls,” Arellano explained. “They were awesome the first two weekends. We had two adults out there so they could stop the game and say things, but there were no big fouls.”

Players included Benja de la Fuente, Ava Hinkson, Connor O’Leary, Benji Obregon, Santos Teves, Antonio Villamil, Cruz Bilbao, Gero Rider, Marek Sutherland, Inaki and Emilia Wulff, Max Scott Barnes and Pablo Falabella.

When Arellano wasn’t able to be there, the participants’ parents helped out. One weekend Gonzalo Teves and Santi Wulff ran it. Another week, some moms brought sandwiches and drinks so the kids stayed after and chatted with each other.

“They start to create friendships and bonds, which is important. Polo is such a small community,” Arellano explained. “The program helps with consistency. Playing with peers,

you form friendships that keep you involved. The problem in the U.S. is that it’s not a common sport. Helping juniors find other juniors with the same interests is what will keep the sport alive.”

Arellano was pleased with the results. He said he definitely saw an improvement in the players, particularly with their comfort level, speed and anticipation.

Arellano has also been involved in clinics provided by the Polo Training Foundation. He attended and offered coaching at Virginia Polo in Charlottesville, Virginia, last summer and plans to return in July.

“The PTF runs a great program. The clinics are a great place to build up excitement, but when the players go home, completely enthusiastic, they have to have a way to continue practicing so that they improve,” Arellano explained.

Youth polo programs like Arellano’s

initiative at NPC are necessary for fostering longterm growth.

Arellano clarifies that the youth program is not only about producing the next generation of pros, but rather about building and growing the community of participants at all levels. Additionally, the initiative offers another level of polo at NPC, reinforcing the idea that the facility is to be enjoyed by players of all abilities, not just high goal.

This year, by the time they got the field organized and the program underway, it was late February. They also had issues with rain, which canceled polo three weeks in a row and limited it to just five weeks this season. With the program now in place, plans are to do it again next year, but this time Arellano is hoping for an earlier start. --Caroline Blang contributed to this article.

23 DEPARTMENTS POLO DEVELOPMENT
Sergio Llamera

SCHOOL SPIRIT

National Intercollegiate Championship results

The Division I National Intercollegiate Championships were held at Virginia Polo Inc. in Charlottesville, Virginia, April 10-14, for both men and women. Six teams lined up on the men’s side, while seven teams competed for the women.

D1 Men

The University of Texas team celebrated a repeat victory, this time over Southern Methodist University.

In the quarterfinals, a strong Texas A&M (Zak Coleman, Will Mudra, Aiden Meeker, Hudson Hurtig, Jose Solis) team ousted University of Virginia (Gaston Gomez, Nick Paciorek, Mak Mourad Shah, Vlad Tarashansky, James Grayken), 29-8, while Southern Methodist University (Landen Eckbo Daniels, Clark Mayer, Shane Metternick, August Schneekloth) defeated Grossmont College (Christian Munteanu, Ethan Bankhead, Garrett Bankhead), 28-16.

The semifinals had Texas A&M facing UNT (Niklaus Felhaber, John Dencker, Vance Miller, Mosiah Gravesande) in a close match. With the lead changing several times, UNT managed to take the 17-15 win to advance. In the other semifinal, SMU defeated University of Kentucky (Rehan Kumble, Joseph Schwartz, Alejandro Puyanan Boggio), 14-12.

In the final, it was a Texas Showdown with UNT against SMU. SMU took a short-lived lead after the first, but UNT turned the tide with a 5-1 second chukker. Leading by three at the half, UNT kept up the pressure and with a solid team effort, increased the lead after each subsequent period to win with an impressive 17-8 advantage.

All-Stars

John Dencker (UNT), Clark Mayer (SMU), Zak Coleman (TAMU), Vance Miller (UNT)

Best Playing Pony

UNT’s Payasa

Best Playing String

UNT

Horsemanship Award

SMU’s Clark Mayer

Sportsmanship Award

UNT’s John Dencker

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Oana Moore UNT’s Niklaus Felhaber, John Dencker, coach Vaughn MIller, Vance Miller III and Mosiah Gravesande

D1 Women

The tournament opened with three quarterfinal matches. In the first, University of South Carolina-Aiken (Brianna Jordan, Kaylin Bender, Summer Kneece, Shona Adams) got the best of Southern Methodist University (Zoey Bivalacqua, Lulu Moore, Lindsey Morris, Cassie Kaplan, Savannah Coventry), 24-15. University of Virginia (Mackenzie Craig, Lea Jih-Vieira, Philippa Harris, Hannah Thomas, Alana Benz) then ousted University of California Davis (Emilynn Angie-Buss, Elise Pardue, Marisa Carelli, Liliana Gonzalez), 29-8, and University of Kentucky (Grace Beck, Joscelin Gallegos, Taylor Nackers, Ava Nunes) defeated California Polytechnic State University (Julia Schaefer, Anna Mendez, Camilla McFall, Nicole Bailey, Sofie Rosenquist), 17-7.

Two days later, Texas A&M University (Josie Dorsey, Cara Kennedy, Olivia Reynolds, Francesca Felhaber) beat University of Kentucky, 17-7, while University of Virginia dashed University of South Carolina-Aiken’s hopes, 20-16.

That set up a final between defending champion Texas A&M and UVA in a rematch from the previous year. Alana Benz started the scoring with back-to-back goals. Josie Dorsey and Olivia Reynolds responded to tie the score, but Lea Jih-Vieira put UVA on top, 3-2. The teams scored three goals apiece in the second to keep the spread one goal. Tamu took control in the third, with goals by Dorsey, Reynolds and Cara Kennedy to take an 8-6 lead into the half.

Kennedy and Dorsey extended TAMU’s lead before Benz scored twice in response, cutting it back to two. Dorsey gave TAMU the three-goal lead in the fifth but Benz again fired back with a two-pointer followed by two more goals

to give UVA the 12-11 advantage going into the sixth. In the final period, Kennedy tied the score but Benz shot back to put UVA on top. With less than a minute on the clock, Dorsey tied the score and it seemed like a penalty shootout, like last year, was inevitable, but seconds later TAMU caught the umpires’ whistles. UVA was awarded a Penalty 2, which Benz had no trouble converting to win the game.

All-Stars

Summer Kneece (USC-Aiken), Lea Jih-Vieira (UVA), Alana Benz (UVA) and Cara Kennedy (TAMU)

Best Playing Pony

Ola Polo’s Jagger

Best Playing String

UVA

Sportsmanship and Horsemanship Awards

USC’s Kaylin Bender

This win means more than just redemption after last year. [It was] winning for ourselves and proving we’re a really strong team.”
--ALANA BENZ
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Texas A&M’s Olivia Reynolds and UVA’s Alana Benz Oana Moore

The Division II National Intercollegiate Championships were played at Central Coast Polo Club in Los Osos, California, April 3-6.

DII WOMEN

Five teams came together for the tournament, with Texas Tech University (Tatijana Mirsky, Rachel Mittman, Holland Tapper) and University of Wisconsin-Madison (Elizabeth Lalor, Heidi Zahnleuter, Emma Vigy, Lindsey Samuelsen, Jessica Chudy) playing off for a semifinal spot on opening day. Texas Tech advanced with a 16-3 victory.

The next day, Texas Tech fell to Colorado State University (Sara Eggenberger, Elyse Warren, Willow Longerbeam, Lily Nelson), 8-3. In the other semi, Grossmont College (Abigail Purdy, Zoey Newton, Kylie Kufahl) edged Cornell University (Ava Ramachandran, Lara Chong, Charlotte Book, Isabelle Braden, Samantha Symons), 6-5.

That left CSU to face Grossmont in the final. CSU got on the board with an early two-pointer by Willow Longerbeam, but a penalty conversion by Abby Purdy and goals by Zoey Newton and Kylie Kufahl put Grossmont ahead, 3-2, after the first period. CSU fought back thanks to a hat trick by Sara Eggenberger added to a tally from Longerbeam, while holding Grossmont to one, to take a 6-4 lead into the half. The teams traded goals in the third, leaving CSU holding the two-goal advantage. Despite a Kufahl penalty shot, a hat

Not a single one of us played as an individual out there ... we were always stronger working together.”
--ELYSE WARREN

trick by Longerbeam secured the 12-8 victory for CSU.

All-Stars

Kylie Kufahl (Grossmont), Willow Longerbeam (CSU), Tatijana Mirsky (Texas Tech), Lara Chong (Cornell)

Best Playing Pony

George Dill’s Snowflake

Best Playing String

Central Coast Polo Club

Horsemanship Award

Grossmont’s Kylie Kufahl

Clyde C. Waddell Jr. Sportsmanship Award

CSU’s Elyse Warren

CSU’s faculty advisor Dr. Stephen Coleman, Elyse Warren, Sara Eggenberger, coach Andrew Wildermuth, Willow Longerbeam and Lily Nelson

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Kaile Roos

Benito Jaramillo led the scoring for Cornell with seven goals, including this one he pushes over the line uncontested.

DII MEN

With four teams in the mix, the tournament began with the semifinals. Cornell University (Patricio Fraga-Errecart, Benito Jaramillo, Michael Lovier, Eduardo Palacios-Garcia, Harrison Fredericks) downed Stanford University (Nazar Khan, Rodolfo Morelos, Will Coors, Amado Shrestha, Marco Carrillo), 30-5, while Georgetown University (Ford Middendorf, Max Gundlach, Benedikt Jaenecke, Muhammad Bin Talal, Alfonso Pla Zobel de Ayala) prevailed over Texas Tech University (Ameer Khan, Cole Faires, Grayson Price, Camden Kolb), 11-6.

Cornell faced Georgetown in the final two days later. Georgetown jumped out to a solid start with Ford Middendorf striking first and Benedikt Jaenecke following with three, including a two-pointer. Benito Jaramillo tallied twice, including a penalty conversion, to get Cornell in the game, 5-2. Cornell managed to benefit from Georgetown’s mistakes in the second to turn the tide. Jaramillo converted

I/I was an amazing opportunity that allowed me to fall in love with the sport of polo. I learned so much from the coach, volunteers and even umpires ... ”
--MICHAEL LOVIER.

two penalties and a field goal, added to a pair of Penalty 1s, all while holding Georgetown to a single tally. That gave Cornell a 7-6 lead at the half.

The teams match goals in the third chukker, keeping Cornell narrowly on top, 9-8, going into the final period. Max Gundlach leveled the score early in the chukker, but Cornell answered back with four in a row. Jaenecke sunk a penalty but Fraga-Errecart shot back with time winding down. The match ended with Cornell comfortably on top, 14-10.

Jaramillo led the scoring with seven goals, three from the penalty line. Teammate Eduardo Palacios-Garcia scored three and Fraga-Errecart tallied twice.

All-Stars

Will Coors (Stanford), Grayson Price (Texas Tech), Benito Jaramillo (Cornell) and Max Gundlach (Georgetown)

Best Playing Pony

George Dill’s 31

Best Playing String

George Dill Farms

Horsemanship Award

Cornell’s Benito Jaramillo

Clyde C. Waddell Jr. Memorial Sportsmanship Award

Georgetown’s Ford Middendorf

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Kaile Roos

NATIONAL HONORS ConcordEquityGroup.com takes President’s Cup championship

A resilient ConcordEquityGroup.com captured the 8-goal National President’s Cup at National Polo Center-Wellington, April 21. It was the first time the tournament was played under a new and improved format, with Regional President’s Cup winners coming together for the national tournament, and it returned to being held in conjunction with the U.S. Open Polo Championship.

The tournament was first played as the Eight Goal InterCircuit in 1969, with teams from the Northeast, Southeast, Northwest and Midstates circuits competing at the Eastern circuit’s Brandywine Polo Club in Toughkenamon,

Pennsylvania. The tournament was renamed the National President’s Cup in 1974.

The original idea was to bring teams together from across the country, and it was often played at the same time as the U.S. Open. In the 1980s, the format was changed to allow the host club to designate host centers to hold playoffs, with the winners competing at the host club for the National President’s Cup title.

Eventually, the USPA Tournament Committee began assigning host centers before restructuring it to instead

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Juan Cruz

was MVP in the Regional President’s Cup final and scored four goals in the National President’s Cup final.

29
“Cacu” Marcos

award Regional President’s Cup tournaments. However, winners often didn’t compete in the National President’s Cup and some years a national tournament wasn’t even held. Eventually, participating in a regional event wasn’t a requirement to compete in the national event.

After the USPA purchased the National Polo CenterWellington, the Tournament Committee decided to change the format based on the original idea, but this time having one Regional President’s Cup per circuit outside of Florida, and four in Florida with the winners coming together at NPC to compete in the National President’s Cup.

To offset the cost of teams traveling to Florida, a $10,000 stipend was offered to winners traveling from outside the state for the national event.

Overall, almost four dozen teams in five states competed over nine months. By mid-April, the field was down to eight: the four regional and four Florida winners.

The first Regional President’s Cup was held in Franklin, Tennessee, last June, with Riverview (Wes Finlayson, Aaron Barrett, MVP Orrin Ingram, Armando Huerta) advancing. Amaro (Scott Sorbaro, Esteban Matuz Hernandez, Antonio Aguerre, MVP Kris Kampsen) qualified at NYC Polo Club in Patterson, New York; Royal Bank Canada (Bob Parr, MVP Juan Sánchez, Wyatt Harlow, Martin Ravina) qualified at Beverly Polo Club in The Plains, Virginia; and TR Turtles (Tiffany Orthwein, Robert Orthwein, MVP Tiamo Hudspeth, Nicolai Galindo) qualified at Traveller’s Rest South Texas

Polo Club in Sealy, Texas.

The Florida qualifiers, most played in the weeks before the national championship, included winners Fross & Fross (Thom Fross, MVP Charlie Caldwell, Ignacio Deltour, Charly Cendoya) from the The Villages Polo Club (The Villages); Audi (Milo Mac Donough, Dig Singh, MVP Martin Jauregui, Marc Ganzi) at Grand Champions Polo Club (Wellington); Port Mayaca Polo (MVP Kako Basualdo, Gonzalo Teves, Santos Teves, Dominic State) from Port Mayaca Polo Club (Okeechobee); and ConcordEquityGroup.com (Dana Barnes, Finn Secunda, MVP Cacu Marcos, Lucas Escobar) from International Polo School (Loxahatchee).

“I was very happy with the participation in the first year,” Tournament Committee Chairman Stevie Orthwein said.

“We had 46 teams competing across the country, which is wonderful for the first year.”

While they didn’t have to travel far, ConcordEquityGroup had perhaps the most difficult road to the national event, facing 15 other teams in the Regional President’s Cup.

The team is owned by Dana Barnes, who took his first polo lesson in 2020 as some bonding time with his son. Barnes hadn’t been on a horse since he was a little kid and his son had taken some riding lessons a few years before that.

“My son asked me out of the blue if I wanted to take a polo lesson with him [after] my wife had died about a couple months before that,” Barnes explained. “I think [my son] really loved [riding], so probably saw that as a way to get back on the horse, and get dad involved in doing something.”

Barnes fell in love with the sport and progressed quickly, playing on the grass for the first time in January 2021. The following year he played in the 4 goal. He moved up to the 6 goal last year and decided to try the 8 goal this year.

“There is a learning curve [with] having a team ... and I had a lot of people I felt comfortable asking questions [to. They] helped me along the way, helped me play better ... helped me learn the business of polo,” Barnes explained.

Last fall, Barnes, who lives in Boston, Massachusetts, and is based at the Farmington Polo Club in Farmington, Connecticut, reached out to Luis Escobar about organizing a team during the Florida season based around Escobar’s son Lucas Escobar. They added Finn Secunda and Cacu Marcos.

Barnes had played with Secunda before and Lucas Escobar had played with Marcos. They played a warmup tournament in January and by the time the Regional President’s Cup started, they were ready.

They edged Skaneateles, 8-7, in overtime, downed Beverly Polo, 10-4, and dodged Marjing, 9-8, to advance to the semifinal, where it eliminated Lost Creek Ranch, 7-6, in a tough match decided in overtime.

“I think the semis, probably, was the toughest match. We were down, 6-2, in the fourth chukker, and we came back to win in overtime,” Barnes explained. “It was a kind of determination that we weren’t going to lose. ... Quite frankly,

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MVP Lucas Escobar, Cacu Marcos, Finn Secunda and Dana Barnes

maybe our team strategy we believed in more as the game [went on]. If we were losing so bad, let’s just play our game and see what happens.”

With that momentum, the team finished 5-0 after defeating Santa Aurelia, 9-5, in the final to earn a spot in the national event, scheduled for nearly a month later.

The team continued to practice, but Marcos had left for Santa Barbara, California, and was commuting from there, while Secunda was in school. And with the season winding down, it was hard to find teams to practice against.

“We were committed to doing it ... and it was really very cool because you have guys that come from different parts of the polo world,” Barnes explained. “We all enjoyed being part of something successful.”

In the national event, the team faced Port Mayaca Polo in the quarterfinal. Grant Ganzi and Trevor Niznik replaced Basualdo and Gonzalo Teves, but the team was no match for ConcordEquityGroup, which took the 16-5 win.

“Lucas and Cacu learned how to play off each other really well, and Finn was kind of our unsung hero,” Barnes said. “He’s 1½ goals, but was always trying to slow down the other team’s best player. When we got to the [National] President’s Cup, he really excelled at that.”

Moving on to the semis, it met Royal Bank Canada. Harlow and Ravina were replaced by Whistle Uys and Quinn Evans, but they too were unable to stop ConcordEquityGroup, which easily took the 16-8 victory to earn a spot in the final.

“When I was planning this team, I wanted a four-man team. I didn’t want to be out there watching the three pros, and the team totally bought into that. Each one of us had a specific job to do, but the main focus was to run and move the ball,” said Barnes. “My job was to stay close to the other team’s No. 4, and when the ball turned over, make sure I am in a position for a pass.”

On the other side, Audi came out swinging in it’s quarterfinal match against Amaro, winning 15-8. It met Riverview in the semis in a tighter match, advancing with a 10-8 score. A tough-as-nails 6-goal Jauregui pulled his groin muscle late in the match and was replaced by Tomas Pieres, who helped finish the job, ensuring the team got into the final.

For the final, Audi brought in double replacements in Juan Bollini and Brandon Phillips for Jauregui and Dig Singh. With the new lineup, the team struggled to find it’s rhythm, going into halftime trailing, 4-2. Meanwhile, ConcordEquityGroup was working like a well-oiled machine. Marcos and Escobar combined for three goals in both the fourth and fifth, while holding Audi to a Penalty 1 and a Penalty 2, increasing the difference to 10-4. Secunda scored early in the sixth and Marcos sunk a Penalty 2 to triple up Audi. An Audi field goal late in the chukker was too little, too late and ConcordEquityGroup.com celebrated the 12-5 victory.

“When you have four guys working together, as we’ve learned to do, it’s a pretty good combination for success,” Barnes explained.

Escobar was named MVP and Isabel, a pretty bay mare played by 13-year-old Milo Mac Donough and owned by Ignacio Novillo Astrada, was Best Playing Pony. Milo is the son of 10-goaler Pablo Mac Donough.

Marcos said, “It’s something unbelievable. We won a [qualifier] with 16 teams, and then we had three super hard games. I’m so happy for us!”

Barnes was thrilled to get into a final for the first time since taking up the sport and going on to earn the title.

“This season has been beyond my wildest expectations. Last season in the 6-goal, I won one game all season,” he said. “So, right now, I’m just kind of catching my breath and figuring out what’s next.”

Orthwein said he thought the tournament went well for the most part. Still, he and his committee are discussing ways that can make it even better and attract more teams to participate nationwide.

“Going forward, I would like to see a few more President’s Cup qualifiers with more teams competing in them for a chance to play in the National President’s Cup at NPC,” he said. “Obviously, we would like to build on the momentum from this year. A few thoughts for next year might be to add a subsidiary for the teams that lose in the first round of the National President’s Cup.

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At just 13, Audi’s talented Milo Mac Donough has no fear.

CLASH OF TITANS La Dolfina prevails in Gauntlet’s ultimate battle

As the three La Dolfina pros emerged from the pool at the National Polo Center’s Mallet Grille the evening of April 21 still in their match gear, they were celebrating what it was like to win. Poroto Cambiaso, Tomas Panelo and Rufino Merlos, young guns of The Gauntlet of Polo, had just won the U.S. Open Polo Championship, adding to their victory in the USPA Gold Cup, both over Valiente and Cambiaso’s father Adolfo Cambiaso. The trio lost the first event, the C.V. Whitney Cup, to Valiente and that changed everything.

The biggest change? “Attitude,” said Panelo, 24, who was elevated to 10 goals in the end-of-season handicap changes, and named MVP after La Dolfina’s 12-9 Gold Cup win over stablemates Valiente. “Today we had much more pressure than the game before. They had already beat us once before and we couldn’t lose twice in a row. It would have been terrible.”

This year’s high-goal fields looked as much like a film set as a polo match with the number of horses and grooms in the end zone matched only by the swarm of camera crews since Netflix came to town. Players changed horses inches away from a sound boom and a cameraman as action was

recorded for a documentary backed by Prince Harry and his wife Meghan.

La Dolfina added to the drama by losing their opening game in the Gold Cup. “We started playing the Gold Cup and the first match we lost against Tamera and that was good for us,” said Panelo. “That made us wake up and put pressure on ourselves, and the truth is we had five finals, including this one, because we had to win every game. That was a good thing. We knew we didn’t have another chance. Only winning.”

Valiente arrived at the Gold Cup final by beating Coca Cola, 12-10, in the semifinals. Gillian Johnston’s team, hinged on Polito Pieres, was back in the Gauntlet after a two-year hiatus and proved their right to be there by reaching the semifinals in all three tournaments. La Dolfina/Tonkawa, so called in the Gold Cup after being joined by Texas’ Jeff Hildebrand, defeated Andrey Borodin’s Park Place, 12-11, to claim their final slot.

Park Place had another near miss in the Open, losing in a penalty shootout against La Dolfina--Hilario Ulloa versus Poroto Cambiaso--that decided which team made it through

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U.S. Open MVP 16-year-old Paquito de Narvaez, riding Best Playing Pony Antu Walung Chavetita, is cool under pressure from Poroto Cambiaso.

to the semifinals. Dutta Corp were also just outside the frame. Aside from an emphatic defeat by La Dolfina, they lost every other game by a one-goal margin.

The cameras had their drama in the Gold Cup final and narrowly missed being a part of the storyline when 16-yearold Paco de Narvaez was penalized for hitting a ball hard on the goal line to score, narrowly missing a photographer. Adolfo Cambiaso’s consternation at the call earned him a four-minute stay in the sin bin.

“We didn’t,” said Panelo, when asked if they had taken advantage of Adolfo Cambiaso’s absence. “We didn’t score one goal. We missed two or three easy goals.”

La Dolfina managed to lead, 5-4, at halftime before extending a two-goal lead, going into the sixth, to a 12-9 final score.

De Narvaez, who won Best Playing Pony of the Gold Cup with Antu Walung Rumba, played all homebred horses. He topped off the season by winning Best Playing Pony of the U.S. Open final thanks to Antu Walung Chavetita, Best String of the Gauntlet and MVP of the U.S. Open final.

The depth of horsepower in the Gauntlet is hard to fathom. Horse lists are everywhere in the end zone with a revolving door of players changing horses. Daniel Gonzalez, grandfather to both Valiente’s de Narvaez and Peke Gonzalez, witnessing the state of play, remembered the days when he was playing in the Argentine Triple Crown with

Santa Ana in the 70s and horse lists were not needed.

“Everybody had four horses,” he said. “Four. And we played all three tournaments with those four.”

USPA Polo Network commentator Toby Wayman, with a front row seat to all the Gauntlet games, noticed a difference this year.

“We saw fantastic quality horses this year, but I feel like we saw depth,” he said. “There’s no fillers for those teams. They go from one amazing horse to another amazing horse. There are no holes.”

Rufino Merlos, who made his high-goal debut last year as a substitute through injury, running home to grab his whites and boots so he could play, truly earned his spurs this year, and all but two of his string were homebreds. Once La Dolfina found their mojo, they were playing team polo that their peers could not match, and Merlos, who turned 17 midU.S. Open tournament, was part of that.

“Rufi’s teammates are from another world,” his father Tincho Merlos said. “They made him feel like a little brother from Day 1, and they made him grow as a player. They made him grow as a boy. It’s been a dream to see.”

By the time of the U.S. Open final, the season was clear cut--Poroto versus Adolfo, the protégé versus the GOAT. The occasion, though, was tinged with sadness with Valiente patron Bob Jornayvaz still fighting for recovery after a

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U.S. Open winners: La Dolfina’s Rufino Merlos, Alejandro Aznar, MVP Tomy Panelo and Poroto Cambiaso
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Jeff Hildebrand celebrated the USPA Gold Cup win as a member of La Dolfina/Tonkawa.

La Dolfina’s Poroto Cambiaso gets past Valiente’s Peke Gonzalez, who is being closely covered by Rufino Merlos in the U.S. Open final.

serious fall in league play saw him airlifted to a nearby hospital. Adolfo Cambiaso wore the No. 1 shirt in recognition of his absence and 0-goal Joaquin Vilgre La Madrid filled in for Jornayvaz in the line up.

“I was enjoying the season until Bob’s fall, and since that moment nothing has been the same,” said Poroto Cambiaso. “And nothing is enjoyable until he is good. And today Valiente is playing because his family want it and we all think that this is what Bob would have liked, to keep on playing.”

So the show must, and did, go on in front of a capacity crowd on the No. 1 field at NPC. Adolfo made a statement online that he would like to win it for Bob. La Dolfina, with Spanish patron Alejandro Aznar taking over Hildebrand’s spot for the Open, were also in it to win it.

For Wayman, the final epitomized the phenomena that is modern-day polo. “Poroto and Panelo, they’ve taken the way that we were all taught to play polo--the right way or the wrong way to do things--and they’ve basically turned it on its head,” he said. “I can remember growing up, my dad screaming at me to get behind the guy with the ball or in front of him. Don’t ever ride to the side of him. The first goal we see in the Open final, Poroto is riding down the

right hand side of the field, Adolfo has got him, nowhere to go, and what does he do, he hits a 90-degree neck shot and Panelo picks it up and goes on to score. He never even thought about missing it. That never even entered in his mind. I get goose bumps just thinking about it.”

The match continued neck and neck, 5-5, at halftime, before La Dolfina entered the final chukker with a 7-6 lead. At this point, Valiente had only scored two goals from the field and La Dolfina had yet to draw a penalty, a case of experience going up against exuberance.

It was tit for tat the whole way until the sixth chukker. It was another display of unmatched La Dolfina team play that sealed Valiente’s fate.

“For me, the play that broke Valiente’s back was when they were heading to the south end of the field, along the boards, grandstand side, Panelo drops the ball back to Poroto,” explained Wayman. “It’s not the guy that has the ball that’s dictating the play. He’s waiting to see where the other guy goes to decide what he’s going to do with the ball. We’re watching the game of polo change right now.”

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Rufino Merlos, 17, gave La Dolfina a two-goal lead in the waning minutes of the U.S. Open final.
38 GAME HORSE PLAYER OWNER BREEDING AGE 1 Mega Big Bay Hilario Ulloa Park Place Open Cabernet x Grappa Big H 11 2 Corcha Facundo Pieres Facundo Pieres Swiss Yodeler x Les be Friends 18 3 Guri Amazona Francisco Elizalde Francisco Elizalde Guri Tarzan x Guri Esperanza 10 4 J5 Arg Auna Adolfo Cambiaso J5 Equestrian/La Dolfina Dolfina Guitarrero x Fax Cherokee 8 5 Dolfina Texas Tomas Panelo La Dolfina Dolfina Obelisco x Tejana 8 6 Cali Acrobacia Tomas Garcia del Rio Tomas Garcia del Rio Machitos Libano x Acrobata 10 7 Dolfina Maria Adolfo Cambiaso La Dolfina Durazno x Celina 12 8 Lavinia Irupe Hilario Ulloa Hilario Ulloa Loyal Force x Lavinia Irónica 11 9 Mega Espia Facundo Pieres Facundo Pieres Open Cabernet x Spooky 10 10 Mas Soul Polito Pieres Polito Pieres Open Bagual x Machitos Simone 12 11 V8 Gondola Matias Torres Zavaleta Matias Torres Zavaleta Machitos Chelo x V8 Tragamonedas 10 12 Fina Asia Nino Obregon Nino Obregon Open Padrino x Fina Sonny 9 13 Majito Tita Gringo Colombres Gringo Colombres Libano x Rodhesia 8 14 Dolfina Cucumelo Tomas Panelo La Dolfina Aiken Cura Clon 01 x Dolfina Cuartetera Clon B06 7 U.S. OPEN POLO CHAMPIONSHIP 2024
BEST PLAYING PONY BEST PLAYING PONY
David Lominska 39
Facundo Pieres’ 18-year-old American Thoroughbred Corcha was tops in Game 2 and won the Wembley Award for longevity in the sport.

La Dolfina’s Dolfina Cucumelo played outstanding for Tomas Panelo throughout the

and in particular in Game

40 GAME HORSE PLAYER OWNER BREEDING AGE 15 Diamante DC Timmy Dutta Timmy Dutta N/A 11 16 Tan Primadonna Peke Gonzalez Peke Gonzalez Livingston x Opereta 8 17 Paz Lerín Zubiaurre Alejandro Poma Dolfina Messi x Chapa Brenda 7 18 Lavinia Irupe Hilario Ulloa Hilario Ulloa Loyal Force x Lavinia Irónica 11 Semi 1 Baysur Lapita Poroto Cambiaso Federico Farina Millonario x Lapa 4 Semi 2 Carpacho Peke Gonzalez Peke Gonzalez Dolfina Cuarteto x Machitos Alcaparra 11 Final Antu Walung Chavetita Paquito de Narvaez Paquito de Narvaez Open Sensacion x Chavetita 9 Horse Mega Big Bay Hilario Ulloa Park Place Open Cabernet x Grappa Big H 11 of the Year
season
14.
David Lominska

not only

in

ironically

but

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Park Place’s Mega Big Bay, a chestnut, shined Game 1, was named Horse of the Year under Hilario Ulloa. David Lominska

SWEET 16 Forbes | Plunkett is NPC 16-Goal Champion

Forbes | Plunkett captured the NPC 16-Goal Championship at National Polo Center-Wellington, April 14. The championship included the winners of four 16-goal tournaments played as a series throughout the season.

The winning team is owned by William “Brandon” Plunkett, a real estate broker and developer based in Franklin, Tennessee.

Looking to try something totally different, Plunkett was introduced to the sport by Buzz Welker some 20 years ago. He took lessons for a year or two before taking a break. About eight years ago, he came back when he met Luis Escobar and has been playing ever since.

Over the past several years, Plunkett has built a string of nine made horses and began breeding horses with Miguel Novillo Astrada in Argentina. He breeds about three or four a

year and now has about a dozen young prospects.

In the U.S., his horses are kept year-round with Escobar. Plunkett’s teams are generally built around Escobar or his sons Lucas and Nico. They play the winter/spring season in Florida, summer in either Tennessee or California and fall in Argentina.

Last fall, through Escobar, Plunkett met player Ben Ketchum in Argentina. Ketchum, from Wellington, Florida, was interested in playing the 16 goal, so the two made an arrangement to split a team that included brothers Lucas and Nico Escobar along with Felipe “Pipe” Vercellino.

“We split the team just for our schedules. It worked out great for us to be able to do that ... to keep these pros together and giving them full season jobs,” Plunkett explained. “It is good to partner up like that. It worked really well.”

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Clearwater’s Camp Campbell challenges Forbes | Plunkett’s Brandon Plunkett.

Seven-goaler Pipe Vercellino’s secret to success is his calmness under pressure.

Plunkett played the first two events: the Continental Cup and the Joe Barry Memorial. The week-long Continental Cup opened the NPC season on Dec. 31, 2023, with four teams playing off in a semifinal round.

“This year is probably the first time we were super organized and really planned ahead. We started practicing super early, so that we would really be ready when the season started,” Plunkett said.

Playing on NPC’s Field One, the Forbes | Plunkett team faced Le Fe/Dazos (David Farache, Robi Bilbao, Fran Elizalde, Louis Devaleix). Forbes | Plunkett jumped out to an early 5-0 lead after the first seven minutes and increased the difference to 9-2 at the half.

La Fe/Dazos fought back in the second half, outscoring Forbes | Plunkett, 6-4, but the damage was done and the team advanced to the final with a 13-8 win.

They faced Patagones (Jack Whitman, Marcos Alberdi, Ed Banner-Eve, Santi Wulff). Again, Forbes | Plunkett controlled the first half, leading 5-2. They held the three-

goal advantage into the fifth chukker when Patagones tied the score, 8-8. Patagones took the lead early in the sixth, but a pair of goals by Lucas Escobar gave Forbes | Plunkett the win. The 16-goal series officially began with the Joe Barry Memorial. The lineup doubled to eight teams. Riding a high from the first event, Forbes | Plunkett faced BTA (Nachi Viana, Alfonso Pieres, Steve Krueger, Kelly Beal) in its first match. A formidable opponent, BTA managed to take the 8-6 victory.

“We couldn’t have been more even. They were super balanced, we were super balanced. ... That was a team that we knew when we played, it could go either way so we better play our best. We had a lot of fun playing with those guys,” Plunkett said.

Forbes | Plunkett went on to defeat SD Farms/Old Hickory Bourbon (Sayyu Dantata, Peco Polledo, Nino Obregon, Stevie Orthwein), 10-8, and Palm Beach Equine (Antonio Aguerre, Dylan Rossiter, Gringo Colombres, Scott Swerdlin), 15-8. It advanced to the semifinal where it edged Patagones, 12-11. It met BTA in the final, but this time Forbes | Plunkett was ready. After an even first chukker, the team took a 3-2 lead in the second and doubled up BTA, 6-3, at the half.

The teams traded goals in the fourth, and BTA got back into the game in the fifth with Viana scoring a pair of unanswered goals to come within one.

A Penalty 2 conversion followed by a Penalty 1 early in the sixth put BTA on top for the first time. Vercellino nailed a Penalty 3 to level the score before Nico Escobar tallied to give Forbes | Plunkett the hard-fought win, 9-8, and earn the first spot in the championship later in the season.

“The 16 goal has gotten so competitive. People take it seriously. Every year, there seems to be a few high-goal teams that either play both or drop down to the 16,” Plunkett said. “You’ve got guys like me, that are newer at it, but you’ve got big organizations that have made that league next level. So, to be able to win against that many teams and that quality of teams, we were pretty excited.”

Plunkett handed over the reins to Ketchum and the team named changed to Copperline Farms. The team played the Ylvisaker Cup, going 4-0 before falling to SD Farms/Old Hickory Bourbon, 10-9, in the semis. The team then moved on to the Iglehart Cup, going 3-1 before BTA eliminated it in the semifinal, 12-11.

In the meantime, Plunkett had taken six weeks off before coming back to Florida for a month to play practices. He

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was on a WhatsApp stream with the team, so he kept up-to-date on what the game plan was. He also got to be there for half the team’s games.

“I would go to the tent after and talk about the game. It was just a really fun environment,” Plunkett explained. “Polo can be a little bit individual the way it is set up with the patrons, but Ben and I had a great rapport, and obviously the Escobars and Pipe, it was just a fun group.”

The team was not planning on playing the Outback Cup, however, since they were going so well, Ketchum agreed to play.

The third time was the charm as Copperline went 3-0 in preliminary play, then defeated BTA, 11-8, in the semis before edging 90210 Polo, 11-10, to win.

Now that Copperline had earned a spot in the championship, they had to decide which team would compete. Ketchum knew Plunkett wanted to play, so he basically said, I’ve had enough, go for it!

The championship included Joe Barry Cup winner Forbes | Plunkett, Ylvisaker Cup winner Clearwater and Iglehart Cup winner BTA. Since Outback winner Copperline was out, they went to the second place 90210, but they were unable to play. The next available team was La Fe/Dazos.

The first semi had Clearwater (Joaquin Vilgre La Madrid, Gringo Colombres, Lucas Diaz Alberdi, Camp Campbell) top BTA, 12-11, in a tough overtime match, while Forbes | Plunkett edged La Fe/Dazos, 10-9. That set up the final between Forbes | Plunkett and Clearwater.

game faces come on and they just refuse to lose. They have this relentless confidence and determination.”

Plunkett said, “We knew Clearwater was going to be tough. ... They make you play hard, they are physical and Camp is 2 goals ... and plays like a pro. Then [Joaquin Vilgre La Madrid] was playing really well ... so it’s a four-man team.”

Plunkett was tasked with trying to extend the field and be a target for passes. As the game got underway, a series of mistakes by Forbes | Plunkett put Campbell on the penalty line. He sunk a trio of Penalty 2s and Vercellino traded field goals with Colombres to end the first seven minutes with Clearwater ahead 4-1.

Alberdi scored the only goal of the second. The teams matched goals in the third to go into the half with Clearwater doubled up on Forbes | Plunkett, 8-4.

“Pipe plays traditionally, so everybody’s involved, but he never gets rattled. He didn’t yell one time and that’s a little bit of the secret to success,” Plunkett said. “[Nico and Lucas’]

Vilgre La Madrid was relentless going to the Forbes | Plunkett pros, so they made some adjustments at the half.

“They got me to ... go to Vilgre and take some pressure off him going to Lucas, and play a bit of zone back,” Plunkett explained. “Once we did, it eliminated them just being able to hit it down field and get open.”

Clearwater was shutout in the fourth, tying the score at 8. Forbes | Plunkett took its first lead in the fifth, 11-10, and held on for the narrow win, 13-12.

Vercellino scored a game-high seven goals, including six from the penalty line. Lucas Escobar was MVP and Colombres’ Dolfina Niñera was Best Playing Pony.

“It was a season that built on itself. We had a lot of success,” Plunkett said. “We won four out of six tournaments, so it’s a good way to end the season.”

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Brandon Plunkett celebrates with Nico Escobar after the NPC 16-Goal Championship final.

OLYMPIC TRIBUTE France challenges US team in 1924 rematch

Polo organizers the world over would like nothing more than to see the sport return to the Olympic stage. While that seems to be unlikely, at least in the near future, other international polo events are great ways to test players’ skills against those from other countries.

One such event is the Paris Games Polo Challenge presented by U.S. Polo Assn. and Polo Club du Domaine de Chantilly, in France. The event will be held at the same time as the Paris Olympics and is a tribute to the opening match of the 1924 Paris Games. This year, France will take on United States in a revenge match after losing 15-1 to the USA 100 years ago! It was the last time either team competed in the Olympics.

Olympic Glory

Back then, on June 28, 1924, before the official opening ceremony, the Olympic polo tournament began with the U.S. eliminating France. Argentina, playing its first Olympic games, took the gold medal, while USA went on to take silver and U.K. took bronze. Spain and France competed as well. Argentina defeated USA, 6-5, in the final in front of 8,000 people, including Britain’s Prince Edward of Wales.

Polo made its debut in the third Olympic Games in Paris in 1900 with U.K. taking the gold medal. Two U.K. teams and two French teams, along with a fifth mixed team, competed. Polo was played again in the 1908 London Olympics, with U.K. fielding all three teams. There was no polo included in the 1912 Stockholm Games.

U.K. took the gold for the third time in Antwerp in 1920, with Spain taking silver and USA earning bronze. Belgium went home without a medal. There was no polo in the next two summer Olympics (1928 Amsterdam and 1932 Los Angeles Games).

The 1936 Berlin Games saw Argentina take its second gold medal. USA didn’t compete and U.K. went home with the silver after being shutout, 11-0, in the final against Argentina, while Mexico took the bronze. Hungary and Germany also competed in what would be the last time polo was included in the Games.

Incidentally, after the Olympic Games, the victorious Argentine team and their horses flew from Berlin, Germany, to Long Island, New York, to challenge Greentree, the winner of the U.S. Open Championship, for the Cup of the Americas in a best-of-three series. The Argentines prevailed 21-9 and 8-4 in front of over 33,000 spectators.

In 1972, a polo tournament was held in Munich, at the conclusion of the XX Olympic Games there in hopes of garnering international media attention and getting polo one step closer to being admitted back into the Olympic Games. Those efforts were in vain.

Paris Games Polo Challenge

This year’s match will be played as five chukkers. Teams will be between 10- and 14-goals, with players rated between 2

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Adobe Stock Image

USA’s Elmer Boeseke, Tommy Hitchcock, F. Roe and R. Wanamaker defeated France 15-1 at the 1924 Paris Olympics.

and 5 goals based on their home country’s handicap. One female player will be on each team and teams will provide their own horses. American players will be leasing horses available at the club. Players will stick and ball on Aug. 4, practice Aug. 5 and the match will be played on Aug. 7.

“Polo was an Olympic discipline in 1924, and the opening match was a disastrous France-USA match for the French team,” explained Benoît Perrier, Polo Club du Domaine de Chantilly director of sales and events. “It will therefore be a ‘challenge’ match in homage to that 1924 France-USA game. It will take place after the last Olympic equestrian event (team show jumping), which will be held in Versailles.”

The U.S. team will consist of Quinn Evans (1), Hope Arellano (3) Nico Escobar (5) and Cody Ellis (5).

Guests are welcome to come cheer on their favorite team.

The Polo Club du Domaine de Chantilly is located in the charming countryside village of Chantilly, an idyllic setting with torch-lit castles, small winding roads shaded by trees and abundant wildlife.

The club is situated at La Ferme d’Apremont, a 500-acre estate dating back to the 17th century. It is part of 80,000 acres of land owned by the Institute of France, a national trust established to preserve the area’s culture and beauty. The club was founded by Patrick Guerrand-Hermés in 1995 when he obtained a 50-year lease for the estate.

Today, the club includes nine regulation-size grass fields,

two all-weather sand fields, 400 permanent stalls and hundreds of removable stalls along with 30 paddocks. The clubhouse is situated in a beautiful old stone barn and the fields are surrounded by lush forests.

Nearby, the Château de Chantilly, built in 1560 and surrounded by water features, houses the second largest art collection outside of the Louvre in Paris. The library has thousands of books and manuscripts, some dating back to the 15th century, including the Book of Hours, which took monks 70 years to write, detailing life in the Middle Ages. Paintings by the masters such as Raphael, Van Dyke and others are common throughout the castle.

Prince of Conde, Louis-Henri de Bourbon (1692-1740), believing he would be reincarnated as a horse, built a castle across the street for his 240 horses and over 500 hunting dogs so that he would be assured a pleasurable existence in his next life. The building is now a living horse museum.

The medieval town of Senlis is just a stone’s throw away and Compiègne, with its imperial château is a half hour north. The area boasts three luxury hotels, including the four star Mercure Chantilly Resort right next door to the polo club.

The polo event is taking place in partnership with the French Federation of Polo, the USPA and the Federation of International Polo (FIP), the international federation representing the sport of polo, and officially recognized by the International Olympic Committee. (In 2007, the USPA

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Smith Archive/Alamy Stock Photo

The Polo Club du Domaine de Chantilly property dates back to the 17th century and includes nine polo fields, hundreds of stalls, paddocks and an historic stone clubhouse.

was recognized as the official governing body for the sport in the U.S.) FIP was founded in 1982 by Marcos Uranga with the help of Glen Holden to enhance the image and status of the game internationally. Today, its membership includes 86 national associations.

One of the FIP’s original missions was to get polo admitted back into the Olympic Games.

FIP World Polo Championships

In 1989, the IPF, now known as the FIP, played its second IPF World Championship, returning to Berlin, where polo made its last Olympic appearance. With eight countries participating, organizers hoped the IOC would take notice.

Berlin had hosted the first IPF European Zone Championships three years prior, drawing 49,000 people to Maifeld, the 50,000-seat stadium built specifically for polo as part of the Third Reich’s staging of the 1936 Games.

“We believe, first, we have to show them what we can do. With this World Championship, they will understand that the IPF is a serious, worldwide federation with 35 nations now associated and 25 playing off for the world championship,” said Reto Gaudenzi, a Swiss polo player and then-vice chair of the organizing committee for the 1989 world championship, at the time.

After the IPF World Championship, Gaudenzi said, “We had the VP of the IOC here and the president of the [Olympic] admitting committee, which was even more important.

He promised he would do everything to help make polo an Olympic sport again.”

If nothing else, Uranga expressed hope that polo might be staged as a demonstration sport in the 1996 Olympics in Canada, but alas it was not meant to be.

After those games came and went without polo being included, attention was focused on what was thought to be a more realistic goal—participation in the Pan American Games, the largest international athletic competition outside of the Summer Olympics and, in some sports, act as qualifiers for Olympic participation. The Pan Am Games are held every four years, the year before the Summer Olympics, and are made up of countries in the Western hemisphere: North, Central and South America and the Caribbean.

The 2011 Pan Am Games were being held in Guadalajara, Mexico, just three years after the VIII FIP World Cup was held in Mexico City. At the time, organizers had hoped the success of the World Cup would help get polo into the Pan Am Games, but that too didn’t come to fruition.

In 2016, then-FIP Chairman Dr. Richard Caleel wrote in part, “FIP is a full member of the Association of Recognized International Sports Federations by the IOC. New IOC regulations have allowed Tokyo to introduce five new additional sports in the 2020 Olympics. If the Olympic venue for 2024 has an active polo community, then we hope to be accepted as an additional sport for those games.”

Despite France’s large horse community, the best intentions

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In 2017, the FIP World Polo Championship Zone Playoffs and the Ladies European Polo Championships were held at Chantilly.

and all the hopes and dreams, polo has yet to get any closer to becoming an Olympic sport.

In 2014, during the World Equestrian Games in Caen, Normandy, a match between France and Rest of the World in Deauville attracted large crowds. Organizers hope this year’s match will be similar, drawing a large audience and members of the media.

Olympic officials, and members of the Fédération Équestre Internationale (FEI) and Fédération Française d’Équitation will be invited to the Paris Games Polo Challenge, but since the Olympic Games will still be taking place, it is unclear if they will be in attendance.

According to the official Olympic website, several years ago the Olympic program changed to enhance the popularity of the Games while ensuring the numbers of athletes, and the cost and complexity of the event, remain manageable.

The Complexity of Polo

For outdoor polo, a 10-acre well-groomed polo field would be needed (not including run-off areas around the field), along with stabling and areas to exercise the horses. Considering each player would likely bring six to 10 horses, and if at least four nations competed, that would require stabling for about 150 horses, minimally, all for 16 athletes!

Compare that to the 200 equestrians and 251 horses allowed to compete in three disciplines during the 2024 Paris Games. In recent years, after recommendations from the

IOC, FEI dropped the number of riders for each country’s teams from four to three in an effort to increase the number of participating nations while staying within the existing quota of 200 riders.

Still, there is an increasing threat that equestrian events could be further reduced or eliminated all together. Animal rights groups continue to pressure organizers to do just that, and when a cross-country horse was euthanized and another was injured in the 2020 Tokyo Games, it further complicated matters.

The IOC is a nonprofit organization that relies on spectators to help bring in income and is more likely to include sports that will draw the biggest audiences. For the upcoming Summer Olympics in Paris, four new sports were added: breaking, skateboarding, sport climbing and surfing.

“Equestrianism at the Olympic Games is still a hot topic, and reintroducing polo into the Olympic program seems complicated at the moment, but this match could indeed be a great showcase in that sense,” said Perrier.

Benefits of International Competition

While polo may never again be a part of the Olympic stage, international polo events help increase the visibility of the sport throughout the world and promote cultural exchange.

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Agence

SUPA PERFORMANCE British collegians ace Arena Challenge Cup

The U.K.’s equivalent to the United States’ long-standing college polo program is a comparatively modern phenomenon, but proving successful as reflected in Great Britain winning the intercollegiate International Arena Challenge Cup with a 16-11 win against USA, April 20.

Great Britain’s visiting side dominated the first half of the arena match played at Palm City Polo Club in Boynton Beach, Florida, thanks largely to their captain, Toby Bradshaw.

“Toby was a bit of an ace in the hole,” said Nigel Mercer who runs the Schools and Universities Polo Association (SUPA) in Britain that produced their star player.

The home side were down 8-3 at halftime but found some resilience in the second half, closing the gap to 13-9 in the final chukker after Benito Jaramilla’s third two-point goal of the match. Defeated but defiant, USA coach Brendon

Stenzel was proud of his team.

“It was a little unexpected,” he said. “The English played really well. They played a great arena game. They played as a team and I think we just missed a few opportunities, but I give our team credit. [SUPA] had a five-goal lead at halftime and they never gave up. Because the arena game is a little different from the outside, anything can happen. Balls can come quick. You never know so you’ve always got to keep your foot on the gas.”

Jaramilla came on in the second chukker after Taylor Nackers (University of Kentucky), Clark Mayer (Southern Methodist University) and Will Coors (Stanford University) were on the receiving end of five goals by Bradshaw to their tally of two, in the first.

“At halftime our coach told us to leave it all in the arena and never give up,” said Jaramilla, who began playing polo

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SUPA’s Lucy Mclaughlin, Zac Campbell-Breeden, Finn Campbell-Breeden and Toby Bradshaw

on grass, but took up arena polo at Cornell, where he is now a sophomore. “We shed off the nerves we had at the beginning, but it wasn’t enough to come back.”

Watching his protege from the sidelines was another coach, Jorge Vasquez.

“I think we were a better team than we actually showed,” said Vasquez. “The U.K. showed us how to play arena polo, especially that kid Toby, who captained the team. He made everybody watch him play pretty much.”

Vasquez started the polo program at the University of Kentucky in 2006, and Nackers is about to graduate, having met Vasquez when he was coaching her high school team.

“It really makes me proud,” said Vasquez. “I met her back in high school when I was coaching the high school team, then she came to visit the [University of Kentucky] when she was a sophomore in high school and I gave her a lesson. ... Every year she came out to take lessons and then committed to [the University of Kentucky]. She’s been a great addition to

the program.”

Bradshaw, rated 3 on grass after playing in the 18 goal last summer at Guards Polo Club in England alongside Argentinian Tomy Panelo, played polo initially in Pony Club and at Rugby School.

“He’s playing amazingly and it’s something to aspire to, unreal,” he said of Panelo, whom he got to watch win the U.S. Open at the National Polo Center the following day. “I wouldn’t be able to describe [playing on his team] in words. I’ve never played with anyone like him before.”

Bradshaw has ambitions to turn professional and is on the HPA’s Elite Development Pathway to help him achieve this.

“It was an absolute no-brainer to include him. He’s been headhunted by teams and he’s got a bright future. I’m sure he’ll make it,” said Mercer, who elected to stay home rather than spend SUPA’s limited charity funds on flights for himself, resulting in Peter Rizzo being an impromptu coach for the visiting team.

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SUPA’s MVP Toby Bradshaw heads to goal while being chased by USA’s Will Coors.

USA’s Sportsmanship Award winner Benito Jaramilla aboard Best Playing Pony Novela

The Great Britain squad also featured Oxford Brooks University’s Lucy Mclaughlin, a Cirencester Park Polo Club player who won the Horsemanship Award after the match in the form of a gift certificate to the Tackeria.

“I might buy something for my ponies at home,” she said. Brothers Finn and Zac Campbell-Breeden, who attend Exeter University, completed the Great Britain contingent, one as a substitute.

“Can I justify taking two brothers out to the USA?” Mercer had asked himself. “They played at our winter nationals [winning the Open section] and because they’re brothers they’re in tune with each other and they back each other up.”

For Bradshaw and the Campbell-Breeden brothers, the trip was a cultural eye-opener. Not only was it their first time in Wellington, but also their travel debut to the States. They enjoyed the hospitality and the horses they were given, provided by Ola Polo.

“The horses were fantastic and this has been an incredible opportunity,” said Bradshaw. “It is amazing to see the dense population of polo clubs here.”

SUPA was founded in 1991 when the Universities of Oxford and Cambridge, Britain’s Ivy League, were the only two establishments with a varsity polo team. Since 2015, SUPA’s numbers have swelled to some 900 members. There is also the Schools and Universities Alumni Polo Association,

which is designed to encourage graduates to continue to play after leaving university.

“The HPA are now quite keen on pursuing grassroots polo, so with SAPA you can come back and play in our nationals and with students at clubs at the same rate,” said Mercer. “So, when you’ve left university you’ve got 10 years when the most expensive sport you want to play is snooker because you’ve got no money. This is to make that join where people who are mad keen on playing are able to continue to play and eventually they will join the HPA. So often people leave university and they never go back to polo again.”

SUPA Nationals take place on grass annually at the picturesque Offchurch Bury Polo Club, in Warwickshire, which takes on the sense of an outdoor festival each summer.

“We have 150 to 200 horses and 150 to 175 teams,” said Mercer. “And the players all camp, so it’s like Glastonbury [rock festival]. I’m sure they have all played on grass, and we would really like it if the American players that competed in the Challenge Cup would come over and play.”

Toby Bradshaw was MVP, and Novela, a member of Ola Polo’s Best String and played by Benito Jaramilla, was Best Playing Pony. Jaramilla also was honored with the Sportsmanship Award.

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JUMPING INTO POLO

Coco Sandhu wins her first tournament in Argentina

Colette Sandhu was born 21 years ago in New York to an English father (George) and American mother (Whitney) and was raised in Mexico. She has spent the last four years becoming a player with enormous potential and a bright future. Sandhu competed in professional show jumping until the pandemic in 2020 prompted her to incorporate a new discipline. “Coco,” as her family and friends know her, tried polo at the

Careyes Polo Club (Careyes, Mexico) and fell in love.

Since then, she has participated in various USPA tournaments, providing her with exponential growth. She is now rated 2 in women’s polo. This year, she received an invitation to play in Argentina and did not hesitate for a moment.

“Everything happened thanks to Milagros Sánchez. My groom works in Mexico and Canada. There he

met Milly, saw her play, and realized that I could learn a lot from her. He gave me her contact information and we started talking. Then, we got organized and I went to Argentina with her for two months to improve my game and to compete there. She put together the team with Juana [Deramo] and Paloma [Casella] and we competed in the Copa de la Mujer.”

The team to which Coco refers is Los Sauces, which ended up winning the tournament organized by the Argentina Polo Association for sides between 11 and 15 goals.

How much did your family play a role in your decision to switch from show jumping to polo?

I’ve been riding all my life. I did jumping and loved going to watch polo, but I didn’t play it. However, that changed in the pandemic. I was in Costa Careyes in Mexico. My father and my cousins played at the club and I started playing. Obviously, I fell in love. I participated in many tournaments in Mexico City, Queretaro, San Miguel de Allende, and won many low-handicap tournaments, 2 to 4 goals, with my cousin Milo Ardissone.

I have also played in Italy and some USPA tournaments in La Herradura. There, I already played a 16-goal with Clara Cassino in the summer of 2022 and learned a lot. That introduced me to women’s polo and opened my eyes to a completely different world.

In Mexico, I’m one of the very few women who play it. I didn’t imagine so many women on the field. I loved it. Seeing that in California and then in the women’s league in Argentina made me decide to dedicate myself entirely to women’s polo.

Now it will be about learning and improving because I have the ability,

54 DEPARTMENTS POLO IN THE PAMPAS
55 DEPARTMENTS POLO IN THE PAMPAS
Coco Sandhu was comfortable on the horses provided by Milly Sánchez.

but I’m going to dedicate a lot more time to it. My dad had two or three horses, but I invested a little more, and now I have seven that have given me very good results in Mexico.

It was your first time in Argentina and you have already won a title. Is it the best possible dream for your debut in Las Pampas?

Yes, it is. Obviously, like any foreigner traveling there, I was completely surprised. I knew that Argentina is the mecca of polo, but I could not have predicted what it was like. I was amazed at the number of fields, the amount of polo being played, the number of girls who dedicate themselves to it in the pursuit of working, improving, becoming professionals and making polo their livelihood.

I didn’t know [that so] many girls my age or younger ... dedicate so much

time to polo and that was inspiring. I also took the opportunity to see a lot of high-handicap matches, a level that I had not had the chance to see in person. It’s all really incredible. I completely fell in love!

How quickly did you adapt to the level demanded by the Copa de la Mujer?

From the very beginning, we worked very well as a team with Milly Sánchez (8), Paloma Casella (1) and Juana Deramo (4). We understood each other very well on the field. Having a player like Milly, to put together good combinations and to be able to hit long shots, was fundamental. Actually, having someone with 8 goals in any tournament makes everything easier for you. We had a little bit of luck in our group. Our first two matches were quite easy for us (Los Sauces beat La Maruca, 8-4, and La Higuerita, 20-9). It was not until the

semifinal against Martindale that the situation became more demanding. I think we came in a little bit weak [to the semis] because those first two games were quite easy, but we were able to win, 8-5. Martindale and [finalist] Las Palmeras were two teams with four very strong players. On the title day, Paloma and myself had to be extremely attentive with the defense. Luckily, Milly had an incredible afternoon.

It was an extremely even and tight match. We knew the foursome of Las Palmeras (Clara Trino Ruano, Alexia Laprida, Mora Condomí Alcorta and American Micaela Saracco) had game. Giving space to any of them was allowing them to go straight to the goalposts. We were losing until the fourth chukker. Then, we were able to [go up] by one goal and in the sixth chukker we tied again, and

56 DEPARTMENTS POLO IN THE PAMPAS
Los Sauces’ Milly Sánchez stops a drive by Las Palmeras’ Micaela Saracco in the final.

luckily we were able to score and win 6-5.

I had a lot of fun and I couldn’t believe it when the final bell rang. I was very happy and satisfied with how it turned out and how I played. I must admit that I went into the final quite nervous. The match was recorded and broadcast; the whole United States and Mexico could see me, my whole family, and I’m not used to that. It took me a while to get into the right mindset, but it was really an unforgettable experience.

What horses did you ride?

My horses were all Milly’s. The good thing is that I got to know them about three weeks before playing the tournament in practice and in stick and ball. I felt very comfortable when we finally played the cup and the horses were perfect.

Is this the most important achievement of what has been your budding career?

Yes, it has definitely been one of my biggest achievements in polo. I also really enjoyed playing and winning the two Mexican Opens in which I participated. It was even on my birthday! I don’t know if I should compare them, but it is my most important achievement in women’s polo.

What’s coming up in your immediate future?

I want to return to the big season in Argentina. They have the best horses, the best fields and the best tournaments. I hope to play a lot more women’s polo. I want to keep playing in Mexico, work on my horses and support Careyes a lot. I’ve been there all my life, my family is a big part of that club and I want to help develop women’s polo there. [I want to] organize more tournaments, like

the Giuliana Cup that takes place in January, bring more top players and make the place more recognized worldwide.

I also want to go and play the season in Wellington. In Careyes I played with Maddie Grant and I’m talking to her to see if we can play a tournament in Florida this year. Also, I intend to go back to La Herradura. There are a lot of places I want to see. I stick and ball, I ride, but I’m missing matches and tournaments to learn as much as I can.

Mexico, Argentina and the United States. Sandhu’s itinerary is undoubtedly the right one for a young American player who intends to gradually earn her place in women’s polo. And of course, everything becomes easier if this learning path is accompanied by triumphs.

57 DEPARTMENTS POLO IN THE PAMPAS
Los Sauces Coco Sandhu, Milly Sánchez, Paloma Casella and Juana Deramo

GLEN HOLDEN

FIP founder, club trustee and circuit governor

Glen Arthur Holden Sr. passed away on April 18. He was 96.

Holden was born on July 2, 1927, in Boise, Idaho, and grew up on a ranch near Portland, Oregon. He went on to serve in the U.S. Army before attending the University of Oregon, where he met his future wife, Gloria.

While working at a campus clothing store, he met a local insurance agent who sparked his interest in the insurance industry, leading him to take classes in insurance and finance. He was a member of the Beta Theta Pi fraternity and graduated with a Bachelor of Science in 1951. Later in his life he received two honorary doctorates from Pepperdine’s Graduate School of Education and Psychology. Further, the University of Oregon’s Holden Center for Leadership and Community Engagement is named for Glen and Gloria Holden.

educational activities included the board of regents of Pepperdine University; board of governors of The Performing Arts Center; board of governors of Hugh O’Brian Youth Foundation; founder of the Citizens for American Educational Foundation; a member of the Association of Governing Boards of Universities and Colleges and the International Foundation for Learning Disabilities of LA, among others.

companies.

In 1973, he founded and became chairman and CEO of Security First

In 1956, he formed and operated Glen Holden Associates, an insurance agency. Later, in 1964, he was hired as president and director of the Variable Annuity Life Insurance Co. (VALIC) of Washington, D.C. and Houston, Texas. Under his guidance, VALIC pioneered the variable annuity product in the U.S. and many other innovative products, which were subsequently adopted by most major life insurance

Group, The Holden Group, all of its subsidiaries, including Security First Life Insurance Company and Fidelity Standard Life Insurance Company. The group provided investment and insurance services to public employees, including those in Florida, Tennessee, Texas and California. His numerous civic, cultural and

In 1986, he was honored as a recipient of the American Humanities Hand to Youth and Exemplar Awards. Four years later, he received the Oxford Cup, Beta Theta Pi fraternity’s most prestigious alumni award. In 1996, he was an inaugural recipient of the National Association of Variable Annuities (NAVA) Hall of Fame award for his development of the variable annuity industry in America.

President George H. W. Bush, with bipartisan support, appointed Holden to U.S. ambassador to Jamaica from 1989-1993, with Holden playing a key role in formulating U.S. policy in the Caribbean. He later served as chair of American Friends of Jamaica for 14 years.

POLO

Holden established his love of horses when his dad brought home a pony for him when he was just 3. Growing up, he rode in a Western saddle, helping train horses to earn spending money during the Great Depression. Eventually, he was invited to play polo in an arena in Portland and loved it so much, he played every week from then on. The club manager gave him lessons and helped him buy his first two horses. He went on to own several hundred polo ponies over the years. Several years ago, when he was asked to name a favorite, he replied, “They

58 DEPARTMENTS OBITUARIES

are like your children. You love them, would do anything for them. [They are] each different, but you never loved one more than the others.”

He played his first polo game at the Lake Oswego Hunt Club, just outside Portland. Later, he took lessons from 10-goaler Bob Skene. They became lifelong friends and traveled together to places like Singapore, Malaysia and

India to play polo.

Holden once said, “I was so passionate about polo and the friends I met, I became deeply involved for life.”

Standing 6 feet tall, with locks of wavy white hair and striking blue eyes, he made everyone feel like a close friend. It didn’t matter if you were a groom or a 10-goal player, he greeted

everyone with a warm, wide smile. Holden joined the USPA in 1957. He visited California, playing at the Santa Barbara Polo & Racquet Club for the first time in 1963. He eventually moved there in 1972 and played at the Will Rogers Polo Club in Los Angeles for the first year, traveling to Santa Barbara Polo and Racquet Club to play on the weekends. Soon after, he joined the board of trustees at Santa Barbara Polo. It was about that time that the club was in financial trouble and Holden helped get it back to financial stability by personally guaranteeing its debts. He went on to serve as Pacific Coast circuit governor from 1976-1985.

Holden was a founding member of the Federation of International Polo and was its president from 1997 to 2005. He, along with Marcos Uranga, created the FIP World Polo Championships. He also served on the board of directors of the Polo Training Foundation and the National Museum of Polo as well as the museum’s Hall of Fame Nominating Committee from 1996 until his death. He was inducted into the Polo Hall of Fame in 2002.

On the field, he earned a 2-goal rating. He and his Gehache polo team won numerous events, highlighted by the 1990 America Cup, the 1993 U.S. Open Polo Championship, the 1986 Pacific Coast Open and the Governors Cup.

Holden played with many great players, including Skene, Ruben Gracida, Daniel Gonzalez and Alfonso Giannico, all who became lifelong friends. While he retired from playing when he was 81, he regularly attended polo events both here and abroad.

He is predeceased by his wife Gloria and daughter Georgianne Holden Stone. He is survived by his son Glen “Jeep” Holden Jr., daughter Geannie Holden Sheller, nine grandchildren and numerous great-grandchildren. The family is planning to hold a celebration of life this summer.

59 DEPARTMENTS OBITUARIES Museum of Polo Archive

PHIL STAPLES

Avid equestrian foxhunted, played polo here and abroad

Phillip Frederick Staples, 81, passed away on April 20. He was born and raised in Ruther Glen, Virginia, on Dec. 30, 1942.

He went on to graduate from Emory & Henry College in Emory, Virginia, where he played football. After a short stint in the insurance business, he returned home in 1972 to grow Woodlawn Construction Company into a highly successful communication and infrastructure business.

An accomplished equestrian, Staples was an avid foxhunter in Virginia and South Carolina and a member of Flat Branch, Aiken Hounds, Fairfax, Middleburg, Deep Run, Belle Meade and Snickersville Hunts.

Staples grew up playing polo alongside his father, Edgar Staples and brothers William, Jeffrey and Richard. He went on to play in major tournaments up and down the East Coast, including those in Washington, D.C.; Middleburg, Charlottesville and Virginia Beach, Virginia; Tampa and Wellington, Florida; Aiken and Charleston, South Carolina; Toughkenamon, Pennsylvania; and Saratoga, New York. Internationally, he played in England, Scotland, Argentina and the Dominican Republic.

managed his polo operation throughout his playing career. In 1998, Staples began competing in South Florida during the winter. He competed in the Outback Leagues in Wellington and Hobe Sound, and won numerous tournaments at the former Gulfstream Polo Club, including the 10- and 14-goal leagues, the 12-goal Bachman Memorial, the 12-goal Bronze Cup and the 8-goal Delegate’s Cup.

Prince Harry in England and Scotland. He also hosted an English military team annually at the Commonwealth Polo Club in Mankin-Sabot, Virginia.

Several times, he competed on teams representing the U.S. in matches against King Charles, who was then Prince of Wales, Prince William and

He earned a 3-goal handicap and was known for his exceptional string of polo ponies and his harddriving backshot. In 1986, he hired professional player Juan SalinasBentley and in 1992, professional groom Bo Taylor. Together, they

Other wins include the National President’s Cup in Lexington, Kentucky; the Gerald Balding in Toughkenamon, Pennsylvania; and the Hall of Fame Challenge, Corey Cup, Regional President’s Cup, Dogwood Cup and 12-goal in Aiken, South Carolina.

Over the years, he enjoyed playing alongside many talented players on his Woodlawn polo team, including Salinas-Bentley, Julian Hipwood, Adrian Wade, Ruben Coscia, Omar Cepeda, Craig Ellis, Michele Dorignac and Francisco Lanusse, as well as friends Dick Riemenschneider, Bill Fannon, Bart Frye, Garrick Steel, Bill Ylvisaker and Cathy Brown. A big supporter of youth polo, he also hired young members of the Arellano, Bryan and Daniels families to play on his team.

Staples is survived by his son Andrew Staples (Kristine); grandchildren Jackson and Olivia Staples; life partner Pam Wooley; brothers William Staples (Butter) and Jeffrey Staples; and Godson Juan Cristian SalinasBentley. He was predeceased by brother Richard Staples and Godson Philip Loving.

A celebration of life was held at Woodlawn Farm in Ruther Glen, Virginia, in mid-May.

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Pam Gleason

USPA NATIONAL TOURNAMENTS

NATIONAL ARENA DELEGATE’S CUP

6 to 9 goal | Brookshire Polo Club | Brookshire, Texas | Jan. 26-March 15

Final score: 17-13

Winner:

Roxstars (Megan Flynn, Shane Rice, Roxy Mounter)

Runners-up: Bar-Spur LLC (Stephanie Colburn, Mark Osburn, Chad Bowman)

MVP: Shane Rice

Best Playing Pony: Chad Bowman’s Lucy

Best Playing Thoroughbred: Shane Rice’s Piñata

Sportsmanship Award: Mark Osburn

Roxstars celebrated a repeat victory in the tournament after getting the best of Bar-Spur LLC.

For the second year, Roxstars made it to the final with an unbeaten record. They edged La Luna Polo, 17-15, Prestonwood, 26-9, and Christian Brothers, 20-18. BarSpur LLC also went undefeated after beating Prestonwood, 17-12, Christian Brothers, 22-13, and La Luna Polo, 16-14.

The final was set between Roxstars and Bar-Spur LLC. Stephanie Massey Colburn got the scoring started but Roxstars quickly responded, taking a narrow 4-3 lead after the first chukker. Roxstars expanded the lead to 9-7 at the half. Bar-Spur stayed close, but Roxstars were one step ahead, increasing the lead to 14-11 in the third. Goals by Chad Bowman and Mark Osburn brought Bar-Spur within one, but Shane Rice scored two penalties and another goal from the field to put the game out of reach. Roxstars took the trophies. Rice was high-scorer with 12 goals, including eight from the penalty line.

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Megan Flynn, Shane Rice and Roxy Riggs-Mounter
Dispatches from the world of polo
David Murrell

USPA NATIONAL ARENA BRONZE CUP

3 to 6 goal | Legends Polo Club | Kaufman, Texas | Jan. 28-March 17

Elite Motion & Performance sailed its way through the tournament, rising to the top of 10 teams.

Final score: 20-15

Winner:

Elite Motion & Performance (Tiamo Hudspeth, Mark Osburn, Amanda Massey)

Runners-up: Polo InterActive (Jose Velez, Javier Insua, Luis Mancebo)

MVP: Tiamo Hudspeth

Best Playing Pony: Mark Osburn’s Jalo

The tournament got underway with all teams playing on Jan. 28 at Brookshire Polo Club. Five winners and one wildcard team advanced to play at San Antonio Rose Palace on Feb. 11. The three winners and one wildcard team moved on to the semifinals on Feb. 25 at Legends Polo.

In the semis, Elite Motion & Performance advanced over Engel & Volkers (Stephanie Colburn, Megan Flynn, Megan Rahlfs), 12-15, while Polo InterActive edged Kuper Sotheby’s (Tanner Kneese, Marcus Murphy, James Glew), 20-18.

The final saw Elite Motion locked in a 4-4 tie after the first seven minutes. Polo Interactive scored another four goals in the second, but Elite Motion doubled that with eight. Elite Motion outscored Polo Interactive 5-1 in the third to take an eight-goal lead into the final chukker. Polo Interactive rallied with six points but it wasn’t enough and Elite Motion took the win.

63 DEPARTMENTS POLO REPORT Dispatches from the world of polo
MVP Tiamo Hudspeth, Amanda Massey and Mark Osburn David Murrell

REGIONAL PRESIDENT’S CUP

Final score: 9-5

Winner: ConcordEquityGroup.com (Dana Barnes, Finn Secunda, Juan Cruz “Cacu” Marcos, Lucas Escobar)

Runners-up: Santa Aurelia (Barry Henderson, Facundo Frayssinet, Gonza Fucci, Charles Muldoon)

MVP: Cacu Marcos

Best Playing Pony: Facundo Frayssinet’s Magdalena

ConcordEquityGroup advanced to the National President’s Cup at National Polo Center in Wellington, Florida, after defeating Santa Aurelia.

Sixteen teams, divided into four brackets, played off over six weeks. The four teams that topped their brackets played off in a semifinal round. Santa Aurelia got the best of Newport (Gene Goldstein, Santos Teves, Milo Dorignac, Michel Dorignac), 9-7, while Lost Creek Ranch (Bruce Gottwald, Kaile Roos, Jason Wates, Tommy Collingwood) narrowly fell to ConcordEquityGroup.com, 7-6.

In the final, ConcordEquityGroup.com defeated Santa Aurelia, 9-5. ConcordEquityGroup.com advanced to the National President’s Cup, played in April at National Polo Center-Wellington.

Cacu Marcos was MVP and Facundo Frayssinet’s Magdalena, a pretty bay mare, wore the Best Playing Pony blanket home.

64 DEPARTMENTS POLO REPORT
Finn Secunda, Dana Barnes, Lucas Escobar and Cacu Marcos
4 to 8 goal | International Polo School | Loxahatchee, Florida | Feb. 2-March 17
Dispatches from the world of polo
David Lominska

IGLEHART CUP

12 to 16 goal | Patagones Polo Club | Wellington, Florida | Feb. 27-March 18

Final score: 10-8

Winner:

BTA (Kelly Beal, Steve Krueger, Nachi Viana, Alfonso Pieres)

Runners-up: 90210 Polo (Sarah Siegel-Magness, Geronimo Obregon, Jesse Bray, Louis Hine)

MVP: Alfonso Pieres

Best Playing Pony:

Nachi Viana’s Oriental Casiana

EquidietUSA’s Aníbal Andreanó presents Oriental Casiana’s Best

The tournament got underway with 11 teams divided into two brackets. After three weeks of preliminary games, the semifinals saw BTA edge Copperline Farm (12-11) while 90210 beat Tonkawa, 12-10.

Both finalists, BTA and 90210, had 4-1 records. 90210 scored three unanswered goals in the first chukker, but BTA fought back in the second, keeping 90210 from reaching the goal while tying the score. Louis Hine scored twice to one from Alfonso Pieres to put 90210 ahead at the half.

Both teams scored four goals in the fourth and one in the fifth to keep 90210 narrowly on top going into the last seven minutes. BTA took hold in the sixth after Nachi Viana tied the score, then gave BTA the lead while 90210 was effectively shut down. With 23 seconds left, Steve Krueger scored an insurance goal and BTA was the winner.

“The heat was intense today and I think we were one down going to the last chukker. But, I told the guys, let’s be patient, let’s go step by step ...” said MVP Alfonso Pieres.

65 DEPARTMENTS POLO REPORT
Playing Pony blanket to Gaston Ovideo, owner Nachi Viana and Cristian Piedrabuena.
from the world of polo
David Lominska
Dispatches

NATIONAL AMATEUR CUP

0 to 4 goal | Eldorado Polo Club | Indio, California | March 1-24

Final score: 4½-4

Winner:

Doorn Design/Chappaqua (Marcial “Toto” Socas, Matias Doorn, Cameron Smith, Jack Weprin)

Runners-up:

Luna (Cory Williams, Jennifer Alexy, Ulysses Escapite, Diego Larregli)

MVP: Toto Socas

Best Playing Pony: Cory Williams’ Blanca

Seven teams played off over two weeks, narrowing the field to just four entering the semis. Doorn Design/Chappaqua ousted Granite Bay (Amelia Gilroy, Eric Hammon, Catlin Dix, Matthew Gonzalez), 8½-6, while Luna Polo edged Lo Siento/ Styled Equestrian (Elena Cullen, Jennifer Sims, Joaquin Condomi Alcorta, Mitch Horne), 6-5.

In the final, Doorn started off with a half-goal handicap. Luna jumped out with three goals, while holding Doorn scoreless in the first period. Cory Williams scored her third goal in the second, before Matias Doorn and Cameron Smith put Doorn on the board, ending the half with Luna holding the 4-2½ lead.

Doorn got to work, chipping away at the deficit in the second half. Luna struggled to reach the goal while eventual MVP Toto Socas scored once in the third and sunk a Penalty 4 in the fourth to give Doorn the narrow lead. Luna was scoreless in the second half, allowing Doorn to take the narrow win.

66 DEPARTMENTS POLO REPORT
Doorn’s Cameron Smith, left, waits for an opportunity to stop Luna’s Ulysses Escapite. Kerri Kerley
Dispatches from the world of polo

Dispatches from the world of polo

DELEGATE’S CUP

4 to 8 goal | International Polo School | Loxahatchee, Florida | March 3-April 7

Final score: 9-8 OT

Winner:

Bientina (Valentino Carlotti, Florencio Lanusse, Francisco Lanusse/Baldo Palomeque, Mariano Gonzalez)

Runners-up: Fox Den Polo (Pelo Vilgre La Madrid, Brendon Stenzel, Facundo Obregon, Derek Sifton)

MVP: Baldo Palomeque

Best Playing Pony: Facundo Obregon’s Tano

With 14 teams hoping to bring home the title, a month of playoff games narrowed the field to four. In the semis, Fox Den Polo edged Marjing (Billy Howard, Nicolas Miró Bongiovanni, Gaston Lisioli, Gates Gridley), 9-8 in overtime while Bientina edged Flying H (Toto Infantino, Nick Manifold, Kris Kampsen, Facundo Panelo, Juan Gimenez Villamil, Santiago Moyano), 9-8, in regulation time.

In the final, Bientina took an early 3-1 lead after the first chukker and extended the lead to 5-2 at the end of the second. Fox Den outscored Bientina, 2-1, in the third, going into the half trailing, 6-4.

The teams matched goals in the fourth chukker and Fox Den held Bientina scoreless in the fifth while hammering in back-to-back goals to knot the score at 8-all and force overtime. Valentino Carlotti scored the golden goal to give Bientina the win. Baldo Palomeque was high-scorer with five goals, earning MVP, and Tano, a bay gelding owned by Facundo Obregon, was Best Playing Pony.

67 DEPARTMENTS POLO REPORT
Alex Pacheco Valentino Carlotti, Florencio Lanusse, MVP Baldo Palomeque and Mariano Gonzalez

HERITAGE CUP

12 to 14 goal | Port Mayaca Polo Club | Okeechobee, Florida | March 8-30

Final score: 11-10 OT

Winner:

Hillcroft (James Miller, Facundo Frayssinet, Tommy Collingwood, Nachi Viana)

Runners-up:

SD Farm (Sayyu Dantata, Finn Secunda, Facundo Obregon, Peco Polledo)

MVP: Nachi Viana

Best Playing Pony: Facundo Obregon’s Tano

Hillcroft and SD Farm rose to the top of a five-time roster with undefeated records. SD topped Parrotheads Polo (1210) and Port Mayaca Polo (10-9), while Hillcroft defeated Las Brisas ((7-4) and Port Mayaca Polo (6-5).

In the semis, SD Farms advanced over Parrotheads Polo, 11-7, while Hillcroft edged Port Mayaca Polo, 8-7. One of the teams would hold on to their winning streak in the final, but it would be a battle.

The teams were level 2-2 after the first chukker and 4-4 after the second. Hillcroft had a 3-0 third chukker to go into the half ahead, 7-4. SD Farms outscored Hillcroft 3-2 in the next two chukkers to enter the sixth down, 9-7. SD fought its way back into the game in the last seven minutes, scoring three field goals while holding Hillcroft to a Penalty 4 from Nachi Viana. The teams were level 10-10 when regulation time ended, forcing overtime. A Penalty 2 in favor of Hillcroft decided the game when Viana tallied his eighth goal, half of those from the penalty line.

68 DEPARTMENTS POLO REPORT
Hillcroft’s MVP Nachi Viana David Lominska
Dispatches from the world of polo

NATIONAL INTER-CIRCUIT CHAMPIONSHIP

12 goal | Sarasota Polo Club | Sarasota, Florida | March 10-29

Final score: 12-11 OT

Winner:

Hillcroft (Herndon Radcliff, Marcos Alberdi, Mason Wroe, James Miller)

Runners-up:

Tito’s (James Uihlein, Vaughn Miller Jr., Jack Kiely, Joe Wayne Barry)

MVP: Mason Wroe

Best Playing Pony: Matias Magrini’s Don Ercole Elite, played by Marcos Alberdi

Hillcroft needed extra time to earn the National InterCircuit Championship title over defending champion Tito’s in a rematch of last year’s final. Hillcroft won the title in 2022 and now has won it a total of seven times.

With four teams in the lineup, Hillcroft and Tito’s met in preliminary play with Tito’s taking the 9-8 win. It would be Hillcroft’s only loss of the tournament.

In the final, Tito’s jumped out to a 2-1 lead after the first seven minutes. Hillcroft tied the score in the second and took advantage of Tito’s mistakes in the third, scoring four penalty conversions, while holding Tito’s to two goals. Hillcroft led 6-4 going into the second half, but Tito’s managed to outscore it 3-1 to tie the score at 7-all at the end of the fourth. From there, the game just got tighter. The teams matched goals in the fifth and again in the sixth, so it wasn’t surprising when the game went into overtime. Herdon Radcliff scored the golden goal to give Hillcroft the hard-fought win.

69 DEPARTMENTS POLO REPORT
Dispatches from the world of polo
Julio Aguilar Hillcroft’s Herndon Radcliff, Marcos Alberdi, Mason Wroe and James Miller

ROSSMORE CUP

Final score: 9-6

Winner:

Bush League (Virgil Kyle, Quinn Kyle, Ulysses Escapite, Pelon Escapite)

Runners-up:

Highwood (Ron Mathison, Santi von Wernich, Marcelo Abbiati, Agustin Bottaro, Maco Llambias)

MVP: Pelon Escapite

Best Playing Pony: Santi von Wernich’s Dolfina Disney

Four teams played for the Rossmore Cup, with the final played as a Skin’s Game. Each chukker was played as a separate match, with the winner of each chukker taking $5,000. The overall winner took the Rossmore Cup title.

After a week of playoff games, the final pitted Bush League against Highwood. Pelon Escapite scored the only goal of the first chukker, added to a handicap goal, giving Bush League $5,000. The teams traded goals in the second, making the third chukker worth $10,000. Agustin Bottaro scored the lone goal, earning Highwood the money. Bush League held the 3-2 advantage at the half.

Highwood picked up another $5,000 and the 5-3 lead in the fourth with three unanswered goals. The teams traded penalty conversions in the fifth but a field goal from Pelon Escapite gave Bush League $5,000. Down 6-5 going into the final period, Bush League charged ahead after sinking four penalty conversions to win the chukker, the game and the last $5,000.

70 DEPARTMENTS POLO REPORT
12 goal | Eldorado Polo Club | Indio, California | March 15-24
8 to
Kerri Kerley
Dispatches from the world of polo
Brothers Pelon and Ulysses Escapite led Bush League to victory. Pelon was named MVP.

REGIONAL PRESIDENT’S CUP

4 to 8 goal | Port Mayaca Polo Club | Okeechobee, Florida | March 16-April 6

After two weeks of playoff matches, four teams were narrowed to two in the Regional President’s Cup.

Final score: 9-6

Winner:

Port Mayaco Polo (Kako Basualdo, Gonzalo Teves, Santos Teves, Dominic State)

Runners-up:

South of 40 (Brad Scherer, Leo Mandelbaum, Robert Payne, Stevie Orthwein)

MVP: Kako Basualdo

Best Playing Pony: Clearwater Polo’s Van Tambourine, played by Gonzalo Teves

The undefeated (3-0) South of 40 team met Port Mayaca Polo (1-2) in the final. Dominic State put Port Mayaca on the board with a Penalty 2 conversion, the only goal of the first period. Kako Basualdo added a field goal before back-toback goals by Robert Payne put South of 40 on the board. Port Mayaca kept up the pressure in the third with a pair of unanswered goals to go to the half ahead 4-2.

Port Mayaca added two more in the fourth, while South of 40 struggled to reach the goal. Stevie Orthwein converted a Penalty 2 in the fifth, but Santos Teves countered with a field goal. State scored early in the sixth to extend the lead to five. South of 40 rallied with three goals in a row, but with time winding down, Gonzalo Teves scored one last goal to put the game out of reach.

All of Port Mayaca’s players got on the board, including State and Basualdo who led with three goals each.

71 DEPARTMENTS POLO REPORT
from
world
polo
Laura Linfoot
Dispatches
the
of
Clearwater Polo’s Van Tambourine, played by Gonzalo Teves, was Best Playing Pony.

BUTLER HANDICAP

Final score: 12-9

Winner:

Maltese Falcons (Melissa Ganzi, Grant Ganzi, Gonzalito Pieres, Alejandro Novillo Astrada)

Runners-up: NetJets (Santos Bollini, Cody Ellis, Nacho Figueras, Nacho Novillo Astrada)

MVP: Gonzalito Pieres

Best Playing Pony: Alejandro Novillo Astrada’s Miniatura

Grand Champions Polo Club finished out its high-goal season with the Butler Handicap, played between Maltese Falcons and NetJets.

After a 2-2 opening chukker, Maltese Falcons took control of the game and never trailed after Melissa Ganzi scored three goals in the second chukker for a 5-4 lead. Gonzalito Pieres added two more goals in the third chukker to lead 8-6 at halftime.

Maltese Falcons shut out NetJets, 1-0, in the fourth chukker to take a 9-6 lead. Playing wide open, Maltese Falcons never lost their rhythm. The teams exchanged 2-1 chukkers in the fifth and sixth, with Maltese Falcons outscoring NetJets, 4-3, in the second half.

The game marked the return of Ganzi, sidelined with a serious elbow injury earlier in the season. She showed no signs of rust, scoring a game-high six goals. Playing alongside her son, 3-goaler Grant Ganzi, the pair combined for eight goals. --Sharon Robb

72 DEPARTMENTS POLO REPORT
Maltese Falcon’s Grant Ganzi
goal
Grand Champions Polo Club | Wellington, Florida | April 21
16 to 20
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Dispatches from the world of polo
David Lominska

Dispatches from the world of polo

OUTBACK CUP

12 to 16 goal | Patagones Polo Club | Wellington, Florida | March 19-April 8

Copperline Farms climbed to the top of a 10-team lineup to earn a spot in the NPC 16-goal Championship. It was the only team to go undefeated throughout the event.

Final score: 11-10

Winner:

Copperline Farm (Ben Ketchum, Nico Escobar, Pipe Vercellino, Lucas Escobar)

Runners-up:

90210 (Sarah Siegel-Magness, Geronimo Obregon, Jesse Bray, Louis Hine)

MVP:

Pipe Vercellino

Best Playing Pony: Pipe Vercellino’s La Tia Bancada

After bracket play, Copperline Farm ousted BTA (Nachi Viana, Alfonso Pieres, Steve Krueger, Tommy Collingwood, Kelly Beal), 11-8, in the semifinals, while 90210 Polo edged Tonkawa (Jeff Hildebrand, Rufino Merlos, Nacho Badiola, Jero del Carril, Santi Zubiaurre), 11-10.

In the final, 90210 struck first, ending the first seven minutes ahead 2-1. It increased the lead to two in the next two chukkers to go to the half ahead, 6-4.

Copperline managed to level the score at 7-7 in the fourth, but 90210 took back a narrow lead, 9-8, in the fifth. Pipe Vercellino sunk three penalty conversions in the last seven minutes and that is all Copperline needed to take the win. Vercellino led the scoring with seven goals, five from the penalty line.

73 DEPARTMENTS POLO REPORT
David Lominska Ben Ketchum, Pipe Vercellino, Nico Escobar and Lucas Escobar

REGIONAL PRESIDENT’S CUP

4 to 8 goal | Grand Champions Polo Club | Wellington, Florida | March 20-April 9

Audi’s Dig Singh lets the ball settle while Pony Express’ Grant Ganzi challenges. Milo Mac Donough, 13, far right, goes up for the pass.

Final score: 10-9

Winner: Audi (Milo Mac Donough, Dig Singh, Martin Jauregui, Marc Ganzi)

Runners-up: Pony Express (Santos Bollini, Justin Daniels, Benji Daniels, Grant Ganzi)

MVP: Martin Jauregui

Best Playing Pony: Santa Rita Polo’s Machitos Rosario, played by Marc Ganzi

In a wild finish, Audi rallied in overtime to win the Regional President’s Cup over Pony Express. After both teams missed scoring opportunities in the first three minutes of overtime, Marc Ganzi clinched the win with a 30-yard penalty conversion.

Audi controlled most of the fast-paced first half, leading 2-0 after the opening chukker, 3-2 after the second chukker and 5-2 early in the third chukker before Pony Express cut the gap to 5-4 at halftime.

The lead changed hands eight times in the second half. Benji Daniels scored with 7:03 left in the fifth chukker to give Pony Express its first lead of the game, 7-6. Two minutes later Jauregui tied the game at 7-7. The lead changed twice again before Justin Daniels scored to tie it 9-9 at the 1:14 mark and force overtime.

MVP Jauregui was relentless and hard to contain defensively, finding little gaps of space to score.

74 DEPARTMENTS POLO REPORT
Candace
Dispatches from the world of polo
Ferreira

REGIONAL PRESIDENT’S CUP

4 to 8 goal | The Villages Polo Club | The Villages, Florida | March 29-April 7

Herndon Radcliff leans on Ignacio Deltour while Charly Cendoya, on Best Playing Pony Zane, and Nick Johnson follow closely behind.

Final score: 9-6

Winner:

Fross & Fross (Thom Fross, Charlie Caldwell, Ignacio Deltour, Charly Cendoya)

Runners-up:

D’Ambrose M.D. (Mike D’Ambrose, Tom Mac Dougall, Herndon Radcliff, Nick Johnson)

MVP: Charlie Caldwell

Best Playing Pony: Charly Cendoya’s Zane

Fross & Fross defeated D’Ambrose M.D. to advance to the National President’s Cup final at National Polo Center in Wellington, Florida.

In the final, D’Ambrose M.D. jumped out to an early 3-0 lead, all off the mallet of Nick Johnson. Fross & Fross began chipping away at the deficit while shutting down D’Ambrose. Fross & Fross trailed 3-2 after the second, but held a 5-3 lead by the half.

Fross & Fross’ Charly Cendoya sandwiched goals around one from Mike D’Ambrose in the fourth and scored the only goal of the fifth to double up D’Ambrose, 8-4. D’Ambrose fought back in the sixth, with Johnson starting and end ending with goals, but Charlie Caldwell scored to add to the difference and Fross & Fross held on to the win.

Cendoya led Fross & Fross with four goals, while Ignacio Deltour contributed five. MVP Charlie Caldwell scored twice. Nick Johnson was high-scorer, leading D’Ambrose with five goals, three from the penalty line.

75 DEPARTMENTS POLO REPORT
Keith Franklin Dispatches from the world of polo

WESTERN CHALLENGE

12 to 14 goal | Brookshire Polo Club | Brookshire, Texas | April 24-May 10

Brookshire Polo Club rolled through the Western Challenge unscathed on their home turf.

Final score: 11-9

Winner:

Brookshire Polo Club (Scott Wood, Quinn Evans, Tommy Alberdi, Torito Ruiz)

Runners-up:

La Elina (Benja Gonzalez Bergez, Pipe Marquez, Joao Souza Aranha, Tomas Obregon)

MVP: Torito Ruiz

Best Playing Pony: Torito Ruiz’s Don Ercole Pili

Six teams were divided into two brackets and played across bracket. Brookshire was the only team to go undefeated, beating Tonkawa 9-6, La Elina 13-7 and Eureka 8-7. In the other bracket, La Elina topped Old Pueblo 15-9 and BTA 12-10 to advance.

Brookshire and La Elina met again in the final and, though it was a closer game the second time around, the results were the same.

Torito Ruiz had a spectacular first chukker, scoring five goals, while La Elina was silenced. Pipe Marquez and Joao Souza Aranha combined for three goals in the next three chukkers but those were negated by three goals from Ruiz in the third and fourth. La Elina fought back with Toto Obregon, Souza Aranha and Marquez combing for five goals, but goals by Tommy Alberdi and Quinn Evans were enough to keep Brookshire out front to the end.

76 DEPARTMENTS POLO REPORT
Scott Wood, Tommy Alberdi, Quinn Evans and MVP Torito Ruiz Kaylee
Dispatches from the world of polo
Wroe

POLO’S ORIGINS

Oldest evidence of the sport dates back to sixth century

A few countries claim to be the birthplace of polo, but the oldest documented evidence points to Persia, now modern-day Iran. Still, that evidence is scant, can be confusing because names are written multiple ways and some documents have reportedly been rewritten. It is widely believed that mounted nomads of Central Asia developed the sport as they migrated to Persia. The earliest games were played with as many as 100 men per side. It was enjoyed by both nobility and military.

12thcenturyluster dish withpoloplayer

Originally, the sport was called Chogan (also chaugan). The term polo is said to have originated from “pulu” the Tibetan word for a ball made from the root of a willow tree.

The earliest match is said to have taken place in 600 B.C. when Turkmen defeated the Persians.

Later, the sport was depicted in words, paintings and on pottery.

Perhaps the first documented reference to the sport is found in the 10th century Persian poem Shahnama,

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10th century art inspired by Siyavush Plays Polo before Afrasiyab from the Shahnama or Book of Kings.

or Book of Kings, written by Abu AlQasim Firdausi. The author indicated his information had been derived from earlier works, traditions and literary fragments.

In one poem, Firdausi describes a game in vivid detail between seven Persian horsemen and seven Turks.

The Turanian King Afrasiyab suggests to the Persian Prince Siyavush, that they play a game of polo. Siyavush accepts and is said to have run so fast and hit the ball so hard, it vanished among the clouds. Some say it reached the moon.

The Shahnama includes several paintings depicting polo. However, there is evidence that at least some of the document, including some paintings, were later altered.

According to the June 1914 issue of the Lotus magazine, other Eastern writers of the ninth and 10th centuries also alluded to the game being played. Ninth century Pahlavi literature includes some of the feats of Kings

Ardashir, Shapur and Hormazd in the Sasanian period (224-651 B.C.) playing, among other sports, a type of hockey on horseback, played with a ball and concave staff or racket. The game was called chupaan, a word from which chogan was probably derived.

Abu Hanifa Dinawari, a 9th century scholar, and King Qâbus of the Ziyarid dynasty, both documented the rules of the game. Persian scholar Omar Khayyâm (1048-1131) used polo to illustrate philosophical points, and the poet Nizâmi (1141-1209) wrote of Khusrau Parviz, the Sassanian king meeting his wife, Shirin during a polo

DEPARTMENTS YESTERYEARS 79
A 17th century game on the Maidan in Isfahan in central Iran. Ancient stone goal posts, seen in the artwork above, still remain today.

game. He describes a match between the Emperor and his courtiers and Shirin and her lovely handmaidens.

According to the American Museum of Natural History, one legend has it that when Alexander the Great was about to invade Persia, Darius III, the last king of the Achaemenid dynasty (550330 B.C.), sent him a polo mallet and ball, and invited him to a game rather than war. Alexander apparently turned down the invitation, saying, “I am the stick and the ball is the world.”

From Persia, the sport spread to Byzantine,Tibet, China and Japan. An exhibition of Imperial China: The Art of the Horse in Chinese History at the International Museum of the Horse in Lexington, Kentucky, tells of Persian Prince Peroz, son of the last pre-Islamic emperor, who fled his homeland sometime in 670, settling in the Tang capital in Chang’an, coinciding with the first mention of polo in Tang China.

Herbert A. Giles (1845-1935), a distinguished English sinologue, translated a unique document written about Emperor Ming Huang, who reigned the Tang dynasty from 712756. The emperor was a skillful player,

but his faithful servants disapproved of him playing “horse ball.” Despite the risk of the ax, one servant wrote three reasons why His Majesty should give up the game:

First, the contention itself between sovereign and subjects is not seemly. Second, “to jump on a horse and swing a club, galloping madly here and there, with no distinctions of rank, but only eager to be first and to win, is destructive of all ceremony between sovereign and subject.” And perhaps most importantly, was the risk of accident. The servant did not get the ax and the Emperor merely “sighed over its excellence for a long time.”

A prince of the Tang Dynasty also played and taught his ladies to play polo on donkeys with rich saddles and bridles encrusted with jewels.

A later Emperor, who reigned in 1163, insisted the game be played regularly. If it rained, the ground was covered with oiled cloth and sprinkled with sand so polo could still be played. When a pony bolted under a low-eaved veranda, the emperor, still clinging to the veranda, calmly ordered the pony to be recaptured. So impressed with the emperor’s cool

behavior, the audience shouted, “Wan sui! (Long live the emperor!)”

Illustrations of polo and documents describing polo balls made of wool and covered in leather and carved wooden sticks with long handles and crescent-shaped heads were unearthed in Northwest China’s Mogao Grottoes, along the Silk Road, linking Asia to Europe. These Buddhist caves date from the fourth to 14th centuries. One scrap of paper found even lists team rosters from a polo match.

Modern polo originated in Manipur, a northeastern state of India. The long-defunct Silchar Polo Club, the oldest known polo club, was founded in 1859 after British military officers discovered local Manipuri emigrants playing a chaotic sport called sagol kanjei (horse stick), the predecessor to modern polo.

Merchants, visiting Silchar from Calcutta, brought word of the game back to their home city. It was so popular that the Calcutta Polo Club, now the oldest extant polo club in the world, was founded shortly after.

80 DEPARTMENTS YESTERYEARS
Figurines dating back to the Tang Dynasty

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